The proposal by the National Aids Council (NAC) to introduce mandatory HIV/AIDS for couple before they receive their marriage certificate has attracted widespread criticism.
HIV/AIDS testing is voluntary in Zimbabwe.
Speaking during a HIV/AIDS workshop attended by Members of Parliament on HIV/AIDS in Kadoma recently, NAC Monitoring and Evaluation director Mr. Amon Mpofu said that it should be mandatory for couples intending to get married to go for HIV testing.
“We want pastors and magistrates or any other marriage officers to demand proof of HIV testing from couples before they tie the knot,” said Mpofu.
However, this proposal has received criticism from the public and human rights specialist citing that it is direct violation to individual privacy.
Dr Admark Moyo who is a senior lecture in Law at Great Zimbabwe University told CITE that that every individual has a right to privacy and this proposal by NAC will do more harm than good.
“Both the constitution and the health act protect every person’s right to not have their health related information revealed to anyone, including the general public,” said Dr Moyo.
“Section 57 (e) of the constitution makes it clear that people have the right not to have their health conditions disclosed.”
“The moment you require couples to adduce evidence to the effect that they have been tested you are essentially requiring them to disclose confidential Information to third parties.”
Moyo said that it was unlawful for NAC to suggest that HIV result should be used as a requirement for one to acquire a marriage certificate because there is high probability that this will destroy chances of many people getting married.
Meanwhile, some residents who spoke to CITE said couples should not be compelled into revealing their HIV status to pastors because there is no guarantee that the pastors will keep the information a secret.
One resident from Njube said, “There is no need to produce HIV results to any pastor people should have the power to make decisions about their marriages without any influence.
“I cannot be forced to reveal my HIV status to anyone because it is within my right to keep the information confidential,” said another resident Thobekile Phiri
“The only thing NAC can do is encourage couples to go for HIV testing rather than forcing them to disclose their HIV status to third parties.”