The government of Zambia seems to have backed down on a decree that allowed hospitals to test patients for HIV/Aids without their permission.
The regulation,which was announced by the country's president Edgar Lungu at the 2017 HIV Testing,Counselling and Treatment Day last week as part of strategy to reduce the country's high prevalence rate of the dreaded disease,had been met by protests over human rights violations.
The country's Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya, has however clarified what government will be implementing in a television interview,saying that t in all HIV testing, full consent of the patient will have to be obtained.
“Before any blood is drawn from your body, consent will be obtained and the tests or any kind of diagnosis explained to the patient. It is not like there will be police officers who will be arresting those people that will opt out but it is important to encourage everyone to know their HIV status."
He said patients will still have the option to opt out if they do not want to be tested for HIV in line with global standards and medical ethics.
“What has ignited the debate is just the issue of semantics here. What we are saying is that when you come to the health facility, the health care provider will off course counsel you and based on the symptoms, you will be advised to undergo an HIV test as a routine. So, it is not mandatory because as Government, we are alive to the issue of human rights, ethics and global standards,” he said.