After Kerala made it mandatory for couples to get HIV tests prior to their marriage, Goa and Karnataka are also toying with the idea. But is it all right to make it compulsory by law?
Why are they planning to make it all compulsory?
There are more people with HIV in India than in any country in the world (2006, UNAIDS estimate). An HIV infected person can spread the infection to his/her unsuspecting spouse. The main objective of this law is to check the spread of HIV and save lives.
Isn’t there a right to privacy?
Yes, right to privacy is a fundamental human right. But would you rather die than have your prospective partner’s privacy intervened? Which is a greater right: the right to live or the right to privacy?
Will it help?
It might. People may restrain themselves from unhealthy sexual practices for they know there will be a mandatory HIV testing before marriage.
Will it prevent infection after marriage?
If a spouse is unfaithful after marriage, he/she can still bring home the HIV virus. Only an HIV test at regular intervals can help. But we have to begin somewhere. Let’s start with a compulsory premarital HIV test!
Why are people opposing it?
Do you think HIV testing before marriage should be made compulsory to contain the HIV-AIDS outbreak? Do you think this is just another way for people to ostracize HIV positive people? Will it really help save lives?
After a person is infected with HIV, his/her body needs some time to develop antibodies against the virus. This is the window period. During this period, he/she may test negative.
If a person tests positive by mistake, it could lead to serious social, emotional, and psychological issues.
National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) policy:
NACO encourages voluntary, not compulsory testing after proper counseling.
The results should be kept confidential. Here, the results will be shared with the prospective life partner.
It just may not work:
Results have not been encouraging at other places where it was tried. The state of Illinois in USA had enforced the law. It however, had to repeal it. According to American Journal of Public Health (05/91) Vol. 81, No. 5, P. 650, following the enforcement, the number of marriages in Illinois decreased while that in its border states increased.