Uganda: Concern over mandatory HIV testing raised by civil society groups

Civil society organisations in Teso, eastern Uganda have asked the government to go slow in its plans to commence mandatory HIV testing in public health centers across the country this year.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health recently announced that it was rolling out mandatory testing to all people who go and seek medical services in health services.

Under the multimillion dollar programme, code-named ‘provider-initiated testing’, HIV counselling and testing will be incorporated into routine medical care, according to Dr. Alex Ario, the acting manager of the AIDS Control Programme.

But, echoing the views of many in civil society, Benson Ekwee, the executive director at the Public Affairs Centre of Uganda, said most heath units have inadequate staff to handle the counselling service, which means plans may have limited success.

Mandatory HIV testing was first piloted on expectant women attending antenatal care and other general patients at regional referral hospitals in 2009. The model is now due to be rolled out to cover health centre IIIs and IVs across the entire country during 2013.


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