Zimbabwean Women's Caucus Calls for Government Review of Policy Barring Doctors From Disclosing Patients' HIV Status to Spouses, Relatives

Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Women's Caucus last weekend adopted a resolution calling on the government to review the country's doctor-patient confidentiality policy in regard to HIV status, Zimbabwe's Herald reports. According to Zimbabwean law, physicians are prohibited from discussing a patient's health with a third party, including spouses, without the patient's consent.

Celine Pote, a legislator for the country's Chiredzi North district, said that spouses have the right to know whether their partner is HIV-positive. "Let it be known by relatives, especially the wife or the husband, that the person they are taking care of is HIV-positive to avoid cross infection and start living positively with the virus," Pote said. Thokozile Mathuthu, governor and resident minister in Matabeleland North district, said that the confidentiality policy would have to be repealed if the county was to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

Sen. Alice Chimbudzi of Mt. Darwin-Muzarabani added that lawmakers would need to introduce legislation in Parliament to repeal the policy. The Women's Caucus met in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, at a United Nations Population Fund workshop aimed at educating lawmakers on integrating women's rights into health policy, practice and constitutional provisions, the Herald reports (Herald, 9/25).

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