23 Sep 2003

Objections to Fiji plan for compulsory AIDS tests

1:25 pm on 23 September 2003

The Fiji Human Rights Commission has expressed strong objections to proposals to conduct compulsory testing for HIV/AIDS.

The chair of the Human Rights Commission, Walter Rigamoto, has called on the public to rally behind their call to stop the compulsory tests.

Radio Fiji quotes Mr Rigamoto as saying such testing will violate human rights provisions of the constitution.

He says the relevant provision says that every person has the right to freedom from scientific or medical treatment or procedures without his or her informed consent.

Mr Rigamoto cites a number of countries where compulsory HIV/AIDS testing is rejected because of the potential for discriminating against certain individuals and groups.

These include pregnant women, prisoners, newborn infants, sex workers, health care workers and patients, immigrants and tourists.

The Human Rights Commission says compulsory testing may discourage people from seeking medical treatment.

A weekend workshop on HIV/AIDS was told that there are already 1-thousand carriers of the virus in Fiji and there are fears that it could rise to 7-thousand by the year 2015.