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‘Youth Living With HIV Shouldn’t Be Barred From Joining Army & Police’

LDU recruits undergoing training

Youth living with HIV/AIDs have asked Government to lift the ban on recruitment of people infected with HIV, saying there is need by the Forces to make research based decisions instead of discriminating HIV/AIDs Patients.

The call was made by Lawrence Ssembatya, Experts Client at Balikuddembe Clinic managed by HIV Activists body, AHF Uganda Cares, while interfacing with MPs on the Forum For HIV Quality Health at Parliament on Friday.

“Positive living people aren’t recruited in the army, but when soldiers are found HIV Positive, they are retained, after retaining them, we hear they are limited to operations, that shows that there is discrimination,” Ssembatya said.  

His remarks were backed by Ibrahim Nsubuga, another HIV Youth Activist who said there is no reason why people living with HIV should be denied employment opportunities in the Forces on the basis of their health status.

“A person living with HIV isn’t allowed to join the army or any other force in Uganda. The official requirements do not clearly indicate this but in the recruitment if you are found to be HIV positive, you are thrown away. We also need equal opportunities. Due to improved services, young people can also endure military training,“ Nsubuga said.

However, Peace Achan (DWR Nwoya) defended the Army decision saying this is done not to expose the people living with HIV to other weakening environments.

“The training you undergo when you are recruited is so vigorous that it demands a lot of energy. So if someone is weak, if someone is taking drugs for HIV and Tuberculosis, and also has diabetes, I think that is the reason they are trying to give,” said Achan.

In a telephone interview, Flavia Byekwaso, UPDF Spokesperson denied allegations of Army being discriminative towards people living with HIV, saying it is the nature of work and training required that restricts the recruitment of this category.  

She explained that the work in the army requires energetic and healthy people because from the very onset, the training is vigorous, hectic and labourious.

“It isn’t that they are segregated, No. The training is hard because you are changing the person, from what they have known as long as they have been on earth into something different. So you subject them to a lot of strenuous exercises, hard work that requires someone to be 100% healthy. Otherwise, they are going to die in that training,” Brig. Byekwaso said.

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