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HIV testing of specific populations: recruits of the armed forces. Issue paper: 3rd Meeting, UNAIDS Global Reference Group on HIV / AIDS and Human Rights, 28-30 January 2004.
Geneva, Switzerland, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS [UNAIDS], 2004. 6 p.In 2001, the United Nations Security Council established an Expert Panel to study the issue of whether the UN should institute HIV testing of peacekeeping personnel. This article, based on a 9 July 2002 presentation to the 14th International AIDS Conference, reports on the findings of a paper prepared for the Expert Panel by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. The paper examined whether it is permissible for the UN to implement mandatory HIV testing of its peacekeeping personnel, and whether HIV-positive UN peacekeeping personnel should be excluded or restricted from service on the basis of their HIV status or HIV disease progression. The article describes some of the court cases in which these issues have been considered; discusses the importance of analyzing such issues in the context of a human rights–based approach to the pandemic; and formulates a series of key principles for guiding UN decision-making. The article concludes that a policy of mandatory HIV testing for all UN peacekeeping personnel cannot be justified on the basis that it is required in order to assess their physical and mental capacity for service; that HIV-positive peacekeeping personnel cannot be excluded from service based on their HIV status alone, but only on their ability to perform their duties; and that the UN cannot resort to mandatory HIV testing for all UN peacekeeping personnel to protect the health and safety of HIV-negative personnel unless it can demonstrate that alternatives to such a policy would not reduce the risk sufficiently. In the end, the Expert Panel unanimously rejected mandatory testing and instead endorsed voluntary HIV counselling and testing for UN peacekeeping personnel. (excerpt)