The Uganda Police HIV policy discriminates against people living with the virus especially limiting their ability to join the force.
Despite the provision in the National HIV and AIDS Policy for equal opportunities for all people including those living with HIV, police management has continued to discriminate against those living positively at the recruitment stage of personnel for the force.
According to the police HIV policy, while personnel who have HIV and are working with the force are to be given equal opportunity with those who are not suffering from the virus, no person can be allowed to join when he/she is HIV positive.
The police Director of Medical Services, Dr Moses Byaruhanga, says the policy that stops people living with HIV from joining the force is not meant to discriminate against them but rather to protect them.
During recruitment of new personnel, candidates are subjected to a medical review done by police medical personnel to which one must be 100% free from any sickness.
Among the diseases that can not be tolerated is HIV and Aids to which the new recruits continue to undergo test for until they complete their nine-month training.
If the results at any point of the training find one to be positive, they are halted and discontinued from the training.
While the police management lacks an exact figure of its personnel living with HIV, 11 police medical facilities have been accredited by the Ministry of Health to test and treat HIV and Aids.
Byaruhanga says 94% of the people who get care and treatment from these facilities are civilians.
Out of the 1,300 people receiving anti-retrovirals from the police health facilities every month, only 78 are police officers.
Police has been encouraging it’s personnel to inform their supervisors once they test positive for better deployment plans. However, most police officers don’t speak for fear of stigma.
A 2013 report by Makerere University Joint AIDS Programme (MJAP) singled out armed forces personnel and commercial sex workers as most at risk groups with rising HIV prevalence rates. The report put the prevalence rates in the armed forces, including the army, police and prisons, at 7.3% while for sex workers the figure was put at 15.4%.
The statistics were based on HIV tests carried out on 64,208 people in 2013 in different parts of the country.