Karonga Central member of Parliament (MP) Frank Mwenifumbo says legislators should take the initiative of getting tested for HIV and publicly disclosing their status so that they can contribute to the fight against the pandemic through eliminating discrimination.
Mwenifumbo made the call while contributing to the HIV and Aids (Prevention and Management) Bill which was passed in the House.
He said the legislators should lead an exemplary life by going for voluntary HIV testing, as part of a broader programme to achieve the global campaign that focuses on the three zeros, namely, zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths related to HIV and AIDS.
“ I would therefore come up with a suggestion that maybe the Ministry of Health and Population should intensify awareness campaigns, civic education as Dowa has already said including voluntary testing and I think this House must show leadership by proactively going for voluntary testing,” he said.
“It is important for each one of us to know our status. We cannot run away from that, but I know it is a difficult thing because it is surrounded or marred by the beliefs both cultural and religious. So, it is an uphill battle for us to overcome these fears, but surely it is very important for all of us to know our status,” said Mwenifumbo
Mwenifumbo also commended the Ministry of Health for the progress that the country has made in combating the scourge of HIV.
“Wehave made progress by reducing the prevalence rate from 18 to 14 per cent, and now we are at 10 per cent meaning that we are making progress,” he said.
Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi received applause in his wind-up speech when he announced that following discussions with various stakeholders, the government would support amendments to the Bill, especially those that proposed criminalising wilful HIV transmission and introduced mandatory testing for domestic workers and officers in uniform.
He said there are “more effective ways of dealing with the contentious issues” such as those provisions outside of the law.