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County orders medics to stop testing HIV/Aids without consent

Health workers in Kwale County have been ordered to immediately stop forcing patients to undergo screening for HIV/Aids as a condition in order to be offered treatment.
County Health Executive, Mr. Francis Gwama who issued the directive said there have been numerous complaints that locals visiting public hospitals are being coerced to undergo the tests to access health care services which is wrong.
“I have information that locals attending health facilities are being denied services until they undertake HIV/Aids without consent. This must stop forthwith,” said Mr. Gwama while officiating this year’s World Aids Day celebrations at Kombani Stadium, in Matuga Sub-county Saturday.
He said though routine testing for HIV/Aids was started in all public hospitals, clients must be allowed to make an informed choice including option to refuse.
“Even if we have such a policy in place, let’s not make people suffer by subjecting them to uncalled for conditions while seeking healthcare services in our facilities,” he noted.
He said patients have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, something which can be attained only if the medical staff stick to professional ethics in their work.
He said that Kwale has made major strides in reducing HIV prevalence which currently stands at 5.7 percent.
At the same time, Mr. Gwama said many youth in the region are at risk of contracting HIV due to rampant drug addiction, adding that plans are underway to expand the methadone therapy Centre at Kombani which currently serves 450 addicts.
“The addicts are at greater risk of infection because they engage in sex without protection, hence exposing themselves to HIV and sexually transmitted infections,” he said.
He also said that the county government is adopting a collaborative approach, comprising other stakeholders to deal with the alarming menace of teenage pregnancies that is ruining girl child education in the region.
By Shaban Omar/James Muchai

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