Uganda Museveni anti-gay law
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has approved an HIV prevention bill considered discriminatory Reuters

Uganda has passed an HIV prevention bill which is "discriminatory" and a "step backwards", Human Righs Watch has said.

The rights campaigner condemned the Ugandan parliament for taking an aggressive approach which will not tackle the virus and will further contribute to discriminate people affected by AIDS.

The HIV Prevention and Control Act, passed by the Ugandan parliament on 13 May 2014, sees mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners.

It also allows doctors to disclose the HIV status of people without their consent.

"Mandatory HIV testing and the disclosure of medical information without consent are contrary to international best practices and violate fundamental human rights," HRW said.

Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at HRW, said: "This HIV bill is yet another step backward in the fight against AIDS in Uganda.

"It is founded on stigma and discrimination and based on approaches that have been condemned by international health agencies as ineffective and violating the rights of people living with HIV."

The bill passed though the Health Ministry's AIDS Control Programme, the Uganda AIDS Commission, despite many independent health rights groups in Uganda not supporting its contents.

"For Uganda to address its HIV epidemic effectively, it needs to partner with people living with HIV, not blame them, criminalise them, and exclude them from policy making," said Dorah Kiconco, executive director of Uganda Network on Law, Ethics & HIV/AIDS.

"The president should not sign this bill and instead ensure a rights-based approach, recognising that people living with HIV will prevent transmission if they are empowered and supported."

According to Unaids (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) about 1.5 million HIV-positive people lived in Uganda in 2012, 190,000 of which were children.

Unaids and other international agencies have discouraged such discriminatory laws which, combined with punitive laws against sex workers and homosexuals, are believed to have increased the stigma and discrimination around HIV, rather than helping tackle the virus.

Uganda's parliament is under fire also for the recent promulgation of a bill which criminalises homosexuality and punishes it with up to fourteen-year imprisonment.