HIV Mandatory Test May Lead to False
Security – Zaran
March 20, 2003
Posted to the web March 20, 2003
MANDATORY testing may lead to false
security in the military that an HIV/AIDS free environment has
been created, Zambia Aids Law Research and Advocacy Network (ZARAN)
president Kaubmu Mwondela has said.
Briefing the press on Tuesday, Mwondela
said the mandatory testing required by the defence forces was
He said the statement by director
general for the Defence Force Medical Services (DFMA) James
Simpungwe on March 4 that the military would conduct mandatory
HIV screening at recruitment and only negative ones would be
recruited was wrong.
Mwondela said mandatory testing had not
demonstrated individual or public health benefits and could
not result in significant negative outcomes for those testing
He said UNAIDS had researched on
voluntary testing and their findings indicated that it did not
on its own help change people's behaviour to prevent infecting
Mwondela said the question of mandatory
screening and exclusion of people with HIV had been litigated
upon in the other countries and Zambia would do well to take a
"If it has been done elsewhere then
it is not peculiar to Zambia and we can also do it," he
Mwondela said mandatory testing was not
a novel in Zambia because other countries had addressed
themselves to the issue and were recording success.
He said reports by USAID revealed that
out of 93 per cent of militaries in South Africa, Namibia,
Malawi, Botswana, Angola and Zambia, 80 per cent rejected all
HIV positive military job applicants.
He said the report also concludes that
asymptotic HIV positive men and women were able to fulfil
military duties and had a right to be engaged in the work for
which they were trained.
Mwondela said unless Zambia's response
to HIV/AIDS respects, protects and promotes the right of
infected and affected persons, the pandemic would continue to
ravage and its effects would continue to be felt.
He said the purpose of any medical
examination in the context of pre-recruitment procedures
should always be to ascertain fitness for the job.
"Unless the military can
demonstrate the unfitness of an HIV positive applicant to
carry out military activities for which such applicants were
otherwise qualified, the military would be discriminating
unfairly," he said.
Mwondela said Zambians had fought long
and hard to rid themselves of discrimination.
Clement Mufuzi from Network for Zambian
People Living with Aids (NZPA) said it was unfortunate that
Zambia still had people who thought that way about HIV.
He said all efforts Zambians had made
towards eradication of discrimination would be futile if such
policies were implemented.