Tanzania: Zanzibar Adopts First-Ever Anti-HIV/AIDS Policy but Rejects Muslim Amendments
October 23, 2006
On Friday, legislators for the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar voted 40-0 to adopt the first-ever "Zanzibar National HIV/AIDS Policy." Twenty abstentions were entered by opposition members for political reasons.
The plan calls for a household-targeted HIV/AIDS education and prevention campaign, including condom promotion, and a school-based prevention curriculum. Motions by some conservative Muslim lawmakers -- to screen all visitors for HIV, outlaw bars, ban "inappropriate clothing," introduce mandatory screening, and segregate those infected -- were rejected.
About 0.6 percent of the archipelago's overwhelmingly Muslim population of about 1 million has HIV, according to the health ministry. Fears of HIV's spread have led some conservative clerics to condemn tourism's consequent influx of foreigners, alcohol, and drug use.
"The immediate and best solution is to join hands and increase HIV/AIDS education to all areas," said Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, who said the government would not violate human rights in its AIDS fight. "Introducing laws to force people to have their blood screened for [HIV], to control people with HIV/AIDS, to ban all bars on the islands, to have all patients in hospitals and visitors, including tourists, checked, can be a big problem. I do not believe they can be the solution to combating HIV/AIDS."
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.