Uganda: Experts Reject Proposal for Compulsory HIV Testing in Ugandan Schools

Kampala, Uganda — A proposal by the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDs in Africa-(AMICAAL)-Uganda chapter to roll out mandatory HIV testing in schools has been rejected by the Uganda Aids Commission.

The proposal came up during the AMICAAL performance review summit held in Masaka district in February. During the meeting, the leaders proposed compulsory HIV testing in schools as a better way of capturing children who are not captured by service providers in their communities.

In their report read by Innocent Ssekiziyivu, the Mubende Municipal Mayor, the leaders noted that besides the low male involvement in HIV prevention campaign, children are not effectively captured in the AIDs treatment chain, which hinders the aspiration of eliminating the virus by 2030.

They argued that once implemented, the policy would enable teachers to know the status of each of learner, such that they are able to provide them the necessary support.

They argued that some parents are still shy about the HIV status of their children and end up holding them back from care preferring that the service be offered from school.

However, Doctor Nelson Musoba, the Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission has rejected the proposal, describing it as inconsequential to the acceptable HIV prevention and treatment approaches approved by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Musoba told URN in interview that although the proposal may be well intentioned for the campaign, it causes unbearable discrimination against the victims worsening the already bad situation.

He instead asks the leaders to join hands and press government to heighten capacities of services providers such that they can effectively offer services under the available structure.

Dr. Musoba also explained that the Health Ministry adopted the new Provider Initiated Counseling and Testing approach, which he says is capable of capturing all suspected cases and enroll them on care and support.

He says the approach rhymes well with the Test and Treat Policy that has registered significant progress in reducing HIV prevalence and deaths.

Meanwhile, Florence Namboozo, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDs also says the committee is opposed to AMICAL proposal.

She challenges parents to take courage and take their children for testing to ensure that they are effectively managed in health centers.

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