Government has directed government health institutions to stop conducting compulsory HIV testing for patients seeking medical care.
Commenting on concerns by the general public over government health institutions conducting compulsory HIV testing before administering medical attention, Health Deputy Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya says government policy on HIV testing remains the same.
Dr. Chilufya tells QFM News in an interview that HIV testing is optional and that no one should be forced to take an HIV test against their will.
He has however, encouraged Zambians to know their HIV status so that they know how to look after themselves which he says it is for their own benefit.
Dr. Chilufya states that for Zambia to attain the HIV free generation status, all pregnant women must know their HIV status so that they have HIV free children.
Yesterday, it had emerged that UTH and some public clinics were implementing a new testing protocol called Diagnostic Testing and Counselling (DTC) which entails that all admissions are subjected to HIV testing.
UTH Spokesman Mwenya Mulenga explained that DTC is aimed at helping the hospital diagnose patients faster and speed up the treatment process without wasting time on unnecessary tests.
But Treatment Advocacy Literacy Campaign said that no one should be forced to undergo an HIV test.
TALC Country Cordinator Felix Mwanza said the move by the University Teaching Hospital and other public health facilities to start diagnosing all admissions for HIV without the consent of the patients was an abuse of human rights.
Mr Mwanza said HIV diagnosis and any other clinical tests must be carried out if the full consent of the patient.
He said his organisation had always advocated for the full knowledge of testing and treatment regimes that patients living with HIV have to undergo.
“Our fear is that if not properly handled, this might lead to increased cases of stigma against people living with HIV. Our stance is that patients have to be taken on board,” Mr Mwanza said.
He said the national HIV response strategy also advocates for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) which he said should be promoted.