Uganda: Clerics Plot Mandatory HIV Testing

A Ugandan woman undergoing tests (file photo).

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) yesterday launched a mass campaign to check whether sexual partners to HIV-positive people know their status and or are on treatment.

Addressing journalists at their offices in Mengo, the Council’s secretary, Msgr Charles Kasibante, said in a statement read on behalf of his chairman and Uganda Mufti Shaban Mubajje that community and faith leaders are required to take HIV test to inspire their followers.

“Having HIV/Aids is no longer a death sentence. When you know your status, you will be immediately enrolled on treatment. Current evidence shows that a substantial number of men are not aware of their HIV status,” he said. Asked how they hope to persuade particularly men to test, IRCU Health and HIV programme manager Charles Sserwanja said they will use their grassroots networks and facilities to track down partners to HIV-positive people.

Such people, he said, will be followed in person and persuaded to take a test.
“We have our schools and hospitals. If a child comes to school and we find him or her HIV positive, we shall look for the parents and test them to know if they are on treatment and if they are not, we shall enroll them immediately,” he said.

Health information is confidential in medical practice and it remained unclear if the approach the Council is adopting would not offend Uganda’s legislations, including the one on HIV/Aids.

Mr Sserwanja said they plan to approach targeted individuals even at their residences and will, through counselling, get them to enroll on treatment if infected. This will apply to singles and couples, he said.

“If you are a woman and you come to our facility and you test positive, you will have to disclose the person you had sex with and we shall go for that person also to test and enroll them on treatment in case we find them positive,” he said.

IRCU is an umbrella organisation which brings together different religious denominations in the country to handle issues of faith and development. One of their joint programmes is on HIV/Aids.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Monitor

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.