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Who can disclose another’s HIV status?

Who has the right to disclose another person’s HIV status? What are the provisions? These are questions which have been popularly asked, and discussed recently following the disclosure of the late rapper, Dramaboi’s HIV status by his mother.

The disclosure of the late artist, Thuto Ricardo Ramphaleng, affectionately known as Dramaboi’s HIV status, by his mother during a memorial service sparked mixed emotions. While some felt it was wrong, others opined that there was nothing wrong with what Dramaboi’s mother did.

But what does the law say about the issue? Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) recently shared a piece of legislation addressing the matter.

Using the Public Health Act of 2013 as a guide, the issue was addressed.

Under section 115(1) the Public Health Act notes that a). A person shall not disclose information about the result of an HIV test including the HIV or HIV antibody status, the sexual behaviour of a person or the use of drugs by a person to any except;

  • a. With consent of that person.
  • b. Where the person died, with the consent of the person’s partner, representative or executive.
  • c. Where the person is under 16 with consent of a parent.
  • d. Where the person has a disability which renders that person incapable of giving consent with the consent of a parent or guardian.
  • e. To an approved health worker, medical practitioner, dental practitioner or nurse who is directly involved in the treatment of counselling that person
  • f. For the purpose of research authorised by a minister.
  • g. To a court where information in medical records directly relevant in proceedings or; Where authorised or required to do so under this act.

Though disclosure of one’s HIV status may cause harm in form of stigma, cyber bullying, leading to depression, emotional distress, and suicide, BONELA is of the view that disclosure of Public Figures and celebrities may combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

“That notwithstanding, disclosure, has potential to de-stigmatise HIV/AIDS by way of normalising HIV/AIDS as a health condition like any other. Public figures, influencers and celebrities may choose to disclose their HIV status with the view to address stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and this should be celebrated and encouraged.” BONELA suggested.

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