THE AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), a partnership of 73 southern and eastern African non-governmental organisations, has cautioned that the proposal by several SADC leaders to introduce mandatory HIV testing might negate the gains made in the AIDS response over the past decade.
During a Heads of State and Government on AIDS Watch Africa held on 17 August on the sidelines of the 33rd SADC summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, several leaders proposed that HIV testing should be mandatory in all its member states in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Director of ARASA, Michaela Clayton said in a statement that mandatory HIV testing will not solve the HIV-AIDS problem the region is currently facing.
She said mandatory testing is a gross violation of human rights to dignity and autonomy which will hinder the achievements of public health goals.
"Instead, we should look critically at the underlying causes of the low levels of HIV testing and uptake the prevention and other HIV-related services," she suggested.
Clayton said in successive political declarations on HIV-AIDS, heads of states have acknowledged and committed to the full realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms as crucial to AIDS including eliminating discrimination against people with HIV and key populations at higher risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs.