The punitive measures that Swaziland and Botswana want to introduce for HIV positive people are unfortunate, says AIDS expert.
AIDS Law Project director Mark Heywood said it was “unfortunate” that Swaziland and Botswana wanted to use legal measures to force people to disclose their HIV status, given the stigma attached to the disease.
“There needs to be greater openness and disclosure to families and sexual partners, but mandatory measures are not the way,” said Heywood. “Forcing people to disclose that they are HIV positive [once tested] may deter people who are sick from HIV-related diseases from seeking treatment.”
He was reacting to Swaziland and Botswana’s decision to take drastic measures to try to curb the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Botswana wants to introduce a law that will make it compulsory for HIV positive people to reveal their status to their sexual partners, according to the country’s health minister, Joy Phumaphi.
Swaziland’s parliament is meanwhile considering introducing compulsory sterilisation for HIV-infected people. In addition, Swazi royal aide Tfohlongwane Dlamini said recently that the country should consider keeping those with HIV/AIDS in camps to prevent them from infecting others.
Dlamini, who chairs the committee that advises Swazi King Mswati III, told an AIDS conference that HIV-infected people were “bad potatoes” that needed to be kept away from others.
In addition, King Mswati III wants HIV testing to be compulsory for all those who want to get married.
About one in four Swazis are HIV positive, while in Botswana about 35,8 percent of the population is HIV positive, according to UNAIDS figures.
Heywood said that if there was proper counselling for HIV positive people, such measures would not be necessary. “An essential ingredient of counselling involves disclosure — how an HIV positive person would reveal their status to family members and friends.” ‘ Health-e News Service.