Of President Mugabe And The Compulsory HIV Testing Suggestion

So not only did President Robert Mugabe get the ringing endorsement of the region at the just ended Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State and Government summit in Malawi, he left a nugget for them to play around with.

President Mugabe suggests that the Sadc region should have compulsory HIV testing if the fight against the scourge has to be effective.

The problem is that when it comes to HIV/AIDS testing, issues of freedom and rights come into play and yet, we force people to go for testing and vaccinations for diseases such as polio.

Regional leaders felt the idea was not feasible though. President Ian Khama of Botswana preferred early interventions saying compulsory testing would result in resources being diverted away from actually dealing with development.

DRC called for ARVs to be produced in the Sadc region while Tanzania said that leaders should be at the forefront of being tested.

Now when you really give it a think, the main reason why compulsory testing would scare a few people on the ground is because of the stigma it comes with. The stigma exists because sex is still taboo. The fact that most infections come through intercourse it means that the virus comes with social stigma.

Perhaps if we became more open about sex and sexuality then we would have no issue with talking about the risks it comes with. You hear instances of women who are in the late 30s still trying to act like they are virgins only to find out later that they have had a kid or two. That is because society puts pressure on them to be chaste.

So when you really look at it, if testing is compulsory, people might become more open about sexuality. Someone’s condition cannot be used as a weapon by others against them because the real issue will not be the condition but whether one is aware of their status and what they are doing about it.

That said, you might want to have a look at this documentary House of Numbers and that will screw with your opinion of HIV. In short, the definition of HIV/AIDS and what causes it, is still in the air.

  • Cynz

    The idea of compulsory testing is good in theory but the whole privacy issue is still a huge violation. Society has to change first but then again it seems like it’s back to the chicken and egg debate

  • Knowledge Manyika

    I believe capacity wise Zimbabwe does not have the ability to maintain a compulsory testing regime. Not so much at the testing stage but the assumption would be for the effective provision of ARV’s you would need a national register much like they do in Australia. The register itself is private and never published however if you are for example the spouse of a person you can obtain a magistrates order for them to view whether your significant other is on the register.

    I think that all pregnant women already get tested in prenatal clinics, which is a start.

  • Jambanja paSalisbury

    His Execellency Pres RGM has a point here! The scourge can be contained much more effectively with compulsory testing + improved access to ARVs, and who knows, a vaccine could be on the horizons and millions of lives could be saved! Bravo Gushungo, supported here!