Southern African Development Community Should Do More to Fight HIV/AIDS, Official Says
March 25, 2009
Parliamentarians across the Southern African Development Community should do more to address HIV/AIDS in the region, Kasuko Mutukwa, SADC Parliamentary Forum secretary-general, said recently at a media briefing in Zambia's capital of Lusaka, the Inter Press Service reports. Mutukwa said, "Considering SADC is at the epicenter of the HIV pandemic, not enough is being done to address it. HIV has a very negative impact on (the region's) development." SADC's 4,000 parliamentarians are responsible for guaranteeing that governments in the region consider HIV/AIDS issues, according to the Inter Press Service. "Elections can come and go in our countries, but issues of HIV are hardly discussed," Mutukwa said, adding, "If all parliamentarians rose to the occasion, they could make a major impact on combating the pandemic." He called for the creation of HIV/AIDS desks within each parliament in the region to push for HIV-specific legislation and programs.
According to Kelly, rather than consult with their constituents, some parliaments have begun to over-legislate HIV by criminalizing transmission of the virus. Kelly said such laws can be "self-defeating" and increase HIV prevalence and discourage testing. Kelly said, "Bad laws can increase the spread of the virus," adding that instead of "over-legislating, parliamentarians should ensure that more resources are invested in HIV prevention" (Palitza, Inter Press Service, 3/23).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.