Tanzania Government Rejects Calls for Mandatory HIV Testing


The government of Tanzania has rejected advice by lawmakers about making HIV/ AIDS testing compulsory for public servants and job seekers. This decision was aired by Health and Social Welfare deputy minister Aisha Kigoda in front of the African country’s National Assembly, saying that the idea was untenable because such exercise would lead to stigmatization and discrimination of people living with the virus.

"The government is not in support of the MP’s idea of making the exercise a precondition for people seeking employment or a political career in Tanzania," noted Dr. Kigoda. She also added that translating the idea into action would "make those people fail to participate fully in routine community activities as free citizens in their own country, effectively denying them their basic constitutional rights and human rights."

She also explained that the level of one’s performance in relation to one’s health depended much on his or her competence in particular jobs or activities, saying that there are people living with the virus who perform better than those who had not contracted the disease. Instead, she states that the best way to fight the pandemic is "to work collaboratively wit people living with HIV/ AIDS by viewing them as human resources as important and useful as all other members of society.

Parliamentary member Mzee Ngwali Zubeir of Mkwajuni-CCM asked Dr. Kigoda why it was not compulsory for people joining the National Service to be tested for the virus. In response, Dr. Kigoda explained that testing was voluntary and called on to legislators to do their part by "passing on to the people correct information on the disease and underlining the importance of going for voluntary testing and counseling."

"We need to encourage people to test," Dr. Kigoda added. "There are a lot of services that people going for testing get, among them counseling and health education generally, but in line with human rights demands and our own national policy on HIV/ AIDS, the government is not ready to force people to test."

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