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RE: THOSE WHO SPREAD AIDS SHOULD HANG

I am both shocked and saddened to read in the Sunday Vision Online (15th March, 2008) the comments of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is calling for the death penalty for people who knowingly spread the HIV/AIDS virus. This will only fuel more HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, out of control already in Uganda and elsewhere because of the obvious lack of HIV and AIDS education.

What is needed is HIV and AIDS education, not a death penalty.

Understanding HIV is to recognise it is a virus, not something you should be afraid to tell people. But people are afraid to disclose it and it would seem rightly so for many, since those who discriminate against people infected with HIV are not held accountable, and/or prosecuted by local, state and country governments around the world. Laws are not in place everywhere, protecting HIV- positive individuals from stigma and discrimination.

Is it any wonder people hide their HIV status when people are often shunned, driven away or worse, simply because they have been infected with a virus?

Individuals do need to be accountable for their actions. however, enacting the death penalty goes far beyond what is necessary and sends the wrong message.

What is necessary from President Museveni and those who think like him, is to demonstrate that HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination will not be tolerated and to voice strongly that those who do, will be punished. This will give rise to individuals feeling comfortable to disclose, with an outcome of fewer cases of those knowingly infecting others.

Bradford Mcintyre, HIV+ since 1984
www.PositivelyPositive.ca
Vancouver, Canada

   

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