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Bauchi Assembly Considers Bill On Compulsory HIV Test

| May 29, 2013 More

BAUCHI – The Bauchi State House of Assembly is working on a Bill that will make it mandatory for intending couples to undergo HIV screening.

The sponsor of the Bill, Ilyasu Zwall, representing Lere/Bula Constituency, told newsmen in Bauchi, that the bill had already gone through First and Second reading.

He said that the bill, when passed, would require intending couples to be tested for HIV in any government recognised hospital “at a time not earlier than one week to the day of the wedding”.

It also made it mandatory for individuals to conduct tests when marrying additional wives.

According to the lawmaker, the enactment of the law is long over-due considering the number of lives being lost as a result of marriages contracted without checking the HIV status of couples.

“My experience when I was the Chairman of NLC in Bauchi, compelled me into sponsoring the Bill.

“Some civil servants that discovered that they were HIV positive confided in me that they got infected through their spouses, having failed to carry out pre-marriage HIV test.

“There was this pathetic case of a man with three wives, who added a fourth one without carrying out the test.

“It turned out that the fourth wife was HIV positive and by the time the discovery was made, it was too late as the man had contacted the virus and spread same to the other three wives.

“As I am talking to you now, both the husband and the four wives have died, leaving orphans behind for relations to carter for.

“When I became a lawmaker, I thought one of the ways to address the problem, was to initiate a Bill for compulsory HIV screening before marriage, which was exactly what I did,“ he said.

The lawmaker explained that he spent six months consulting with stakeholders, such as religious and community leaders, health experts and state agencies dealing with HIV and AIDS, before drafting the Bill.

“I am happy that not even a single stakeholder opposed the idea. They all supported and gave me inputs. As I am talking to you now, the Bill has passed the First and Second Reading. What is left is the Third Reading.

“The Bill has already been forwarded to the House Committee on Health to convene stakeholders hearing, after which it will be passed and given to the state governor for his assent,” Zwall added.

Reports say that the Bill was tagged “A law to provide for a compulsory Human Immune Deficiency Syndrome Virus (HIV) test before marriage and for related and incidental purposes thereto”.

It would also compel intending couples to present HIV test certificate to any clergy or religious institution before marriage.

It provided that “any man who is diagnosed as HIV positive shall not be married to a woman that is diagnosed as negative, and vice versa.

Category: Bauchi State News

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