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New law on HIV testing in Botswana: The implications for healthcare professionals

Rofiah O. Sarumi, Ann E. Strode
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 16, No 1 | a337 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v16i1.337 | © 2015 Rofiah O. Sarumi, Ann E. Strode | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 January 2015 | Published: 11 September 2015

About the author(s)

Rofiah O. Sarumi, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Ann E. Strode, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Botswana is one of the countries with the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Innovative HIV testing strategies are required to ensure that those infected or at risk of infection become aware of their HIV status and are able to access treatment, care and support. Despite this public health imperative, HIV testing strategies in Botswana will in future be based around the principles in the new Public Health Act (2013). The present article describes the HIV testing norms in the Act, and sets out the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and its implications for healthcare professionals in Botswana.

Objectives: To compare international norms on HIV testing with the provisions governing such testing in the new Botswana Public Health Act and to assess the extent to which the new Act meets international human rights norms on HIV testing.

Method: A ‘desktop’ review of international human rights norms and those in the Botswana Public Health Act.

Conclusion: HIV testing norms in the new Public Health Act in Botswana violate individual rights and will place healthcare workers in a position where they will have to elect between acting lawfully or ethically. Law reform is required in order to ensure that HIV testing achieves the joint goals of public health and human rights.


Keywords

HIV-testing; Public Health Act (2013); Human Rights

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