Swaziland Army to Reject HIV-Positive Recruits

On Thursday, Swaziland officials announced that the nation's armed forces will not accept HIV-positive recruits. "The army is experiencing a rise in HIV/AIDS-related illnesses and deaths, and this has adverse effects on the overall mission and preparedness, and may eventually lead to insecurity in the country," the Royal (Swaziland) Defense Force said in a policy statement. To enforce the policy, HIV testing would extend to all army personnel, including air controllers who are part of the military, said an army spokesperson. AIDS activists criticized the policy as discriminatory and said the policy would provoke a personnel crisis. "Army recruitment is likely to suffer, because HIV testing is unpopular, and in Swaziland it is taboo to acknowledge that you are HIV-positive. The army will face a manpower crisis," predicted AIDS activist Thulani Simelane. Among the nation's population of 1 million, almost 40 percent of sexually active people ages 15-49 have HIV.