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Fake HIV tests on the rise in Uganda

Those with HIV in Uganda are often stigmatized in society and have a hard time finding work so they are trying a new way to hide their HIV status.

By Aileen Graef

An increasing number of HIV positive Ugandans are buying fake negative HIV test result papers so they may avoid the stigma of HIV and find work.

In Uganda, where HIV is a serious epidemic, people must be tested for the virus and present their verified HIV status to potential employers. Unfortunately, despite it being so common in the country, people with HIV are often discriminated against and this discrimination leads to them breaking the law to get negative test results.

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In a report by the BBC, they visit 15 clinics in Kampala and try to convince them to provide a negative test result even though they are HIV positive. After bribes of about $20 each, 12 out of the 15 clinics complied and gave them official papers saying they were negative for HIV.

One woman, who declined to reveal her identity, said she knew she was breaking the law when she got a fake test result, but she had no choice.

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"I had to get a test result so that I can be accepted in this company so that I can feed my child," she said. "I know it's illegal. What I did is illegal -- it's not right. But at least it'll save my life."

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The Ugandan Minister of Health Ruhakana Rugunda said he wasn't surprised at the illegal market for test results, and it is a problem the country must face.

"It does not shock me. Nevertheless, it is the challenge for the government and the country to put up its socks and squarely face this problem," Rugunda told the BBC.

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HIV activists say this stigma will only worsen the HIV problem in the country because they fear that it will make HIV positive people too scared to seek treatment.

[BBC]

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