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Policy on HIV-testing for children reviewed
Thursday 21 October 2004
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UGANDA: Policy on HIV-testing for children reviewed

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  Salamatu Foundation

KAMPALA, 8 October (PLUSNEWS) - The Ugandan government is reviewing its policy on HIV-voluntary counselling and testing for children following recommendations by experts that disclosure of a child's sero-status should only be done by a person with whom the child feels most comfortable.

Currently, a Ugandan below the age of 18 years is legally a child. According to policy, a child cannot be tested for HIV without the consent of a parent or guardian. But officials say the reality is that many children who lack parental support begin sexual activity early or have been caught up in war-situations and got infected.

"Children in special circumstances, have to be dealt with according to the prevailing situation - like children in conflict situations, children heading families and child mothers or wives," the experts recommended.

They also say that the policy should take disabled children into consideration.

"The policy has to consider that counselling of children with disabilities should be conducted in a setting that takes into consideration their specific disability, for example, deaf children. We need to get counsellors who know the sign language," Elizabeth Madra, one of the experts, told PlusNews.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) country representative in Uganda, Martin Mogwanja, said that there was need to analyse the situation so that young people could access care and treatment.

"Children between the ages of 12 and 17 may sometimes be socially and psychologically mature enough to seek healthcare for themselves," Mogwanja said. "They may not be comfortable, or even wish to have their parent, guardian or teacher know their HIV status."

"There will also be a situation where exemptions may have to be made regarding the age of consent for HIV testing," Mogwanja added. "This includes formally abducted children, child mothers and children who have been raped or defiled."

Uganda has won acclaim in the world for its anti-AIDS campaign that has paid off by reducing infection rates from 30 percent in the 1990s to about 6 percent presently. An estimated one million people are HIV-positive, of whom 10 percent are children. A million people have died of the disease since it was first diagnosed 22 years ago.


Recent UGANDA Reports
Global fund gives $70 million for ARVs,  4/Oct/04
PMTCT programme in trouble,  9/Sep/04
A new hope for orphans,  16/Aug/04
Envoy laments the burden of conflict, AIDS, orphans in the north,  2/Aug/04
UN Agency calls for better access to services for war-affected children,  14/Jul/04
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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