East African Parliament Pushing for HIV/AIDS Bill

As the East African Parliament winds up their term, the members are pushing for the passing of the East African Community HIV & Aids Prevention and Management Bill 2010 so that the new Assembly starts on a fresh plate.

Speaking during the stakeholders meeting in Kampala on Friday, the EALA committee on general purposes said the Bill should be passed before June when their five-year term of office elapses.

The Bill, almost similar to the one handled by the Ugandan Parliament, seeks to get interventions to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero Aids-related deaths and zero discrimination taking into account the special needs persons, the most at risk and other vulnerable groups.

Statistics from Burundi show that 3 per cent of the 8.5 million estimated population are living with HIV/Aids. According to the United Nations Aids Service Organisation in Bujumbura, majority of the infected persons are women while the coverage of the Prevention of Mother to Child Infections is very minimal.

In Uganda, there are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV/Aids, including 150,000 children. An estimated 64,000 people died from Aids in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned by the scourge.

HIV/Aids burden
Meanwhile, at the East African National Networks of Aids Organisation, statistics indicate that as of 2009, East Africa had an existing burden of an estimated 4.5million persons living with HIV/Aids, 338,800 annual new HIV infections, 286,000 Aids-related deaths and 4m orphans left due to HIV-related deaths.

Although most partner states already have their own legislations like Uganda’s HIV/Aids Prevention Bill 2009, the regional law if passed, does not criminalise the transmission of the scourge like the Ugandan Bill proposes but offers shelter to people living with the infection.

The Bill is inspired by the successes of the EAC integration which includes the coming into force of the Custom Union and the Common Market Protocols.

The regional Bill also differs from the Ugandan Bill in mandatory testing and mandatory disclosure. The committee led by Margaret Ziiwa was in Uganda to consult on the country’s Aids Bill.

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