This not only violates the most basic rights of people living with HIV. It also threatens public health, by making it dangerous for anyone to seek information about HIV prevention or treatment.

—Rebecca Schleifer, of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who addresses issues related to HIV and AIDS.

 

According to HRW, four Egyptian men were recently detained, shackled to hospital beds, and forcibly tested for HIV; two of the men tested positive.  Amnesty International and HRW state that these recent arrests are part of a larger scheme that started last fall, when two men were arrested during a fight in Cairo in October 2007. When one man stated that he was HIV-positive, the men were taken into custody and questioned by the division of the police that investigates questions related to public morality. Both men asserted that they were beaten and forced to undergo rectal examinations that were allegedly intended to prove homosexual behavior.  Homosexuality can be indirectly punished in Egypt by charging homosexuals under laws that punish obscenity, prostitution and debauchery. 

Abuse and torture by the police is not entirely uncommon in Egypt, an issue which was recently highlighted by camera-phone video footage of police raping a man with a stick.

Just as importantly, treating HIV/AIDS as a crime instead of a severe illness has the potential to dissuade unknown numbers of people from seeking testing and treatment in the country of approximately 75 million. 

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