Mandatory AIDS Testing
AIDS has become a worldwide epidemic that has struck every identifiable group. However, persons who are considered to be in a high-risk group of contracting HIV, the disease believed to cause AIDS, are still stigmatized by the media and other professionals as being diseased and abnormal. It is quite surprising still that this type of stereotype still exists now in our gender-bending society. No longer do only gays, prostitutes, bisexual men, intravenous drug users contract HIV, the heterosexual community is also facing the epidemic at phenomenon increases. It is estimated that heterosexual transmission accounts for 75% of all AIDS cases in the world.(Video, CBC In Review) And still individuals persist that AIDS is a gay disease and that if one is not gay, one is immune from it. No one is immune to from AIDS. Until a vaccine and cure is discovered for AIDS, the numbers will increase and people will keep dying. Therefore it is of vital importance to educate people about AIDS and to promote safer sex. The key word now is prevention. Among many proposed policies to help prevent AIDS infection, one of the most controversial is mandatory AIDS testing. Mandatory AIDS testing is theoretically very effective, however, when it is applied, it is not practical at all because one is dealing with human nature, the odd nature of the virus itself, and also all of the stigmas that are attached to AIDS. Therefore, not only will mandatory AIDS testing not prevent HIV infection, it will indirectly increase HIV infection because of the adverse effect it will have on voluntary testers. One of the major flaws of mandatory AIDS testing is that "it provides people with a false sense of security."(Greig, p68) When one goes for AIDS testing or more accurately an HIV antibody test which is also know as the ELISA test (Kolodny, p42), one tests for the presence of HIV antibodies not for the virus itself. Our bodies manufacture antibodies to fight against foreign infections, therefore the presence of HIV antibodies indicates that the person is infected with HIV and is considered a carrier and may infect others. However, if the person is infected recently enough, these antibodies might not show up in the test because it can take the body as long as six months to develop these antibodies. This period of time is known as the window period. So a person whose test returns with a negative HIV status may be in fact a carrier and not know it because the antibodies have not shown up yet. Misguided, this individual believing to be HIV negative, may participate in high risk activities for contracting HIV and infect others as well.
Mandatory Aids testing also involves sub-policy known as contact tracing or partner notification. The intent of this policy is to have an individual who is HIV positive disclose his sexual history and all partners as well. Then the public health office will contact these partners and have them tested and educated. This policy fails to recognize that it is dealing with a very sensitive, and private issue and people might not want to disclose their sexual history. Also how will this information be verified? It will be of no surprise that certain individuals may lie and identify someone who they had no sexual contact with just to put that person through the hassle. Not only is this policy an infringement on privacy, it is not effective because there is no cure for AIDS. In the past, contact tracing was also implemented for other STD's(sexual transmitted diseases) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex where there is treatment for the diseases. (Greig, p71) For AIDS, there is no cure or vaccines, therefore, people living with AIDS(PWA) are not treated but in fact being re-educated again. With all the hassle and insecurity of the mandatory AIDS testing policy, people will become reluctant to test. Also because the results of the tests will be kept on file and the results are...
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