Zambian Military To Screen Officers for HIV, Only Accept HIV-Negative Recruits
The Zambian military has announced that it will screen all officers for HIV and only recruit officers who are HIV-negative, the Times of Zambia reports. The announcement came during a joint function between the Defense Forces Medical Services and Project Concern International in Lusaka. Defense Forces Medical Services Director-General James Simpungwe said that screening new military recruits will help prevent the spread of HIV and increase productivity. Officers who are active members and who are found to be HIV-positive will be assigned to lower categories, given less strenuous duty and given antiretroviral treatment. In addition, all officers will be taught safer sex methods (Times of Zambia, 3/4). Simpungwe said that military life is extremely active and reassigning HIV-positive officers to less physically demanding duty would help slow the officers' progression from HIV to AIDS, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 3/5). Health Minister Brian Chituwo "commended" the Defense Forces' decision. He said that military personnel are at a much higher risk for HIV infection because they spend long periods of time away from home. Although the proposed program is at odds with international human rights conventions, which call for equal treatment regardless of HIV status, Chituwo said that the program is in line with Zambia's national HIV/AIDS prevention plan (Times of Zambia, 3/4).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.