Zanzibar adopts first HIV/AIDS policy, rejects conservative Muslim recommendations

The Zanzibar parliament on Friday adopted its first HIV/AIDS policy but turned down the request of some conservative Muslim lawmakers to close all bars and outlaw revealing clothing as part of the strategy, AFP/Yahoo! News reports.

Lawmakers also rejected requests from some Muslim lawmakers to screen all visitors to the archipelago for HIV and segregate HIV-positive people from HIV-negative people.

The Zanzibar National HIV/AIDS Policy, which was adopted by a vote of 40-0 with 20 abstentions, calls for a door-to-door awareness campaign, HIV prevention education in school curricula and the promotion of condom use, according to officials.

Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha urged the government to reject the request of conservative Muslims because of concerns over human rights violations and the island's dependence on tourism, adding that banning bars, inappropriate clothing and requiring screening of visitors would not help to combat the spread of HIV.

Conservative Muslim lawmaker Abdullah Juma said adopting such measures would show the government's commitment to controlling HIV/AIDS.

Conservative Muslim legislator Ali Mohamed said that separating people with HIV/AIDS would protect HIV-negative people.

About 0.6% of the roughly one million people living in Zanzibar are HIV-positive, according to the Ministry of Health (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/20).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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