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Monday, September 27, 2021

Government directs institutions to stop conducting compulsory HIV testing

Health Government directs institutions to stop conducting compulsory HIV testing

Health Deputy Minister Chitalu Chilufya (right) talks to University Teaching Hospital managing director Lakson Kasonka (in dark grey suit,right), as others look on after officiating at the handover of three buses and one utility vehicle worth K1.8 million in Lusaka
Health Deputy Minister Chitalu Chilufya (right) talks to University Teaching Hospital managing director Lakson Kasonka (in dark grey suit,right), as others look on after officiating at the handover of three buses and one utility vehicle worth K1.8 million in Lusaka

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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Why has the Govt developed cold feet over such a very timely program? Aids is draining so much of our resources and timely detection of the illness can give us good time to devise intervention measures

  2. Please ensure that pregnant mothers are tested for HIV in order to prevent transmission to unborn babies. This is a case of compulsory HIV testing.

  3. Make HIV testing compulsory to limit transmission by rogue people. Those who do not have it should not worry because the test will be negative. Why set the government for providing HIV treatment when the culprits are refusing to take the test. Some of the HIV drugs come from foreign donors. Why let the infection go unchecked only to require expensive treatment later? Stupid minister. Let them go to a private clinic .

  4. Its pretty clear why this move was made. In my opinion this stigma of HIV/AIDS is what is killing us. We would rather hide than tackle the issue. Probably people making such bad decisions are infected and fear people will know. My suggestion is have it mandatory when women give birth as it saves lives. When patients are ill, doctors do all sorts of test in order to make a diagnosis so why not conduct a test at the same time? Charlie Sheen a movie actor just came out saying he’s HIV positive because doctors conducted a series of test in order to know. Stop killing people!

  5. In North America and Europe its automatic for women giving birth to be tested. It is very normal when patients are sick and all tests are done in order to know what’s going on. This is backward thinking and this type of leadership is dangerous and needs to go. If the person making these decisions is HIV positive we can understand why they would run to this decision. Let’s think of the nation as a whole so we can save lives. We can at least take the first step in curbing this violent disease and the only way is through mandatory testing. Lets end stigma starting today.

  6. @The Nurse,
    The opt out ‘protocol’ has been in effect for pregnant mothers in Zambia for many years now, in fact longer than it has been in the Western Hemisphere where the disease is not as bad as it is in Zambia.
    The thing is, the test should be reasonably applied. You cannot go to the hospital complaining of a tooth ache and they decide to administer an HIV test for that. But if you go with a complaint or symptom that is suggestive of the virus at work, then the medical practitioner should tell you he is suspecting you have the virus and would want to rule that out with the test. The old adage ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck’ applies here. If it doesn’t look like a duck, walk like a duck nor quack like a duck, then…

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