Under Fire, Health Ministry Denies Compulsory HIV Tests

treat geneva;”>“The Ministry maintains that HIV testing is voluntary, link meaning that no one can be forced to undertake the test,” said Director General of Health Services, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng on Tuesday.

“ This is done in respect to human rights obligations as per the HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) policy 2011 stating that no person shall be forced to test for HIV when they have not consented, save for circumstances that warrant mandatory testing.”

Aceng observed that mandatory testing is recommended in cases of rape or defilement where the offender and the victim are forced to test to rule out infection.

“It is also recommended in blood donation to rule out HIV infection so that it is not passed onto the recipient. A clinician may also decide to carry out HIV testing to any patient for diagnostic and patient management purposes. However, the results are only revealed to the patient if they have consented to the test,” she added.

“The Ministry wishes to clarify that the program referred to in the media focuses at offering opportunity for HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) to every person who reports to a health facility. The program, popularly known as Provider HIV Testing and Counseling (PITC), seeks to diagnose for HIV among people who report to the facility for routine services who would otherwise miss the chance of knowing their status,” she noted.

Media reports on forced testing had caused public outcry, with many criticizing the move.

According to Aceng, the PITC program is not new and has been implemented for the last five years in all hospitals, all Health Center IVs and about 70% of Health Center IIIs.

It is incorporated in the routine medical care, meaning that testing for HIV will always be offered to every client but the onus of testing and knowing results remains the decision of the patient.

Aceng said HIV Counseling and Testing is important in the HIV epidemic response as it contributes hugely to prevention of further spread and helps infected individuals to be initiated on care and treatment.

“It also encourages people to test with their partners such that each one is aware of the other’s status.”

The Health Ministry boss maintained records so far have shown impressive responses with over 80 percent of those who have been offered the opportunity to test accepting.

“The Ministry of Health therefore appeals to the general public to respond to these offers in order to know their HIV status and hence live a good and productive life,” she concluded.

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