Target: President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
Goal: Repeal intrusive and harsh new HIV law
Just a few months after a high court in Uganda repealed a law that criminalized homosexuality, Uganda’s human rights violations continue to mount as President Yoweri Museveni signs yet another damning act into law. The HIV Prevention and Control Act punishes transmission of HIV with prison sentences of up to ten years. The law also permits mandatory testing of non-consenting individuals and enables courts to release a person’s HIV status to the public.
Despite Uganda’s decade-long fight against the AIDs epidemic, the creation of community-based programs, the spread of pragmatic approaches to preventing infection, and the critical decrease of HIV infection rates, President Museveni’s new law is a huge step back for the once-promising nation. In contrast to many other countries in eastern and southern Africa, Uganda’s HIV epidemic is showing signs of a sharp increase, despite millions in donor dollars. The new HIV Prevention and Control Act will do nothing to address these mounting issues.
Not only is the law a contradiction to well-established practices in HIV prevention, education, and response, but its harsh penalties and punitive measures will only scare people away from services and testing, as well as perpetuate fear and further discrimination against those living with the disease. Especially in a country with well-documented stigma towards the LGBT community and those living with the disease, making one’s HIV status ‘public knowledge’ puts countless individuals at risk for physical violence, undue prejudice, and even exile.
Since 2009, Uganda’s health activists have tirelessly advocated for a law that would protect those living with HIV from injustice and bigotry. Instead, President Museveni’s law ignores any attempt to fight the rapid spread of the disease, and is a callous and spiteful attempt at tarnishing the names of government critics, stimulating political witch hunts, and overthrowing opposing political officials.
Sign the petition to tell President Yoweri Museveni that the HIV Prevention and Control Act needs to be amended now.
Dear President Yoweri Museveni,
Uganda was once seen as a success story in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. But in recent years, the country has lost sight of its goals: to obliterate HIV infection and provide proper care to those suffering with the disease. Your HIV Prevention and Control Act is nothing but a petty attempt at tarnishing the names of government critics and stimulating political witch hunts.
Instead of urging those suffering from the disease to get tested and treated, this new law will frighten them away from seeking help, potentially allowing them to infect others in their ignorance. Instead of punishing those with HIV, you must create incentives for people to get the medical assistance and knowledge that they need to ensure that their infection stops with them.
With Uganda’s human rights offenses mounting, it’s about time that you reevaluated the real purpose behind some of your appalling laws. I urge you to abolish the HIV Prevention and Control Act immediately before you expose innocent people to violence, humiliation, degradation, or exile.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Komencanto via Wikimedia