President Edgar Lungu has today announced that HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment is now Compulsory in Zambia in all government run health facilities.
President Lungu disclosed that the development is official Government policy and that there is no debate about it.
He said the new policy measure is in response to Government’s HIV agenda of ending HIV by 2030.
President Lungu made the landmark announcement at the inaugural HIV Testing Counselling and Treatment Day commemoration under the theme “Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS” held at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
President Lungu added that Cabinet debated this matter last night and reached this decision.
He emphasized that protecting life of the affected and those who they can affect overrides the human rights argument about voluntary testing.
“I must admit that there were some colleagues who felt that this policy would infringe on human rights but the no one has the right take away somebody’s life. Just the same way we don’t consult you for consent when we are testing for Malaria, we will go ahead and test you for HIV and we will counsel you and if you are positive, we will commence you on treatment,” President Lungu said.
The policy is however a major shift from global standards and guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS that promotes voluntary counselling and testing.
The two UN agencies are strongly opposed to mandatory HIV testing.
Several studies have shown that as much as compulsory testing increases treatment outcomes, the regime also promotes stigma towards HIV.