Indian State Plans to Make HIV Test Mandatory Before Marriage
December 21, 2006
Legislators in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday discussed plans to make HIV testing mandatory for couples seeking to marry. The proposed bill was brought up after lawmakers underwent voluntary HIV tests as part of an awareness program, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of HIV cases in India around 1.5 million out of the country's total of 5.7 million cases. "The climate in the state is just right for such a bill, and legislators are keen on bringing about such a legislation," said P.K. Agarwal, a state health department official.
The proposed legislation is likely to be tabled in March at the assembly's next session, said Agarwal. Thorough consultations with medical institutions and nongovernmental organizations will be required before a method of enforcing the bill evolves, he said.
Recently, state Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said his government wants to expand a program to ensure infants do not become HIV-infected. "Since condom use is not popular, we are considering tough measures like compulsory HIV testing," Reddy said.
Andhra Pradesh and neighboring state Maharashtra together account for 10 percent of India's HIV infections. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has warned that figure could increase unless adequate control measures are taken.
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