The Programmes Manager of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme, Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, has stated categorically that it is illegal for churches and religious leaders to demand HIV test from potential couples before blessing their marriage.
“Love is bigger than HIV; and no church or pastor has the right to deny a potential couple the right for marriage because they have tested positive to HIV. It is illegal for pastors and churches to demand mandatory HIV screening before the marriage of couples are blessed, and such affected persons could seek legal redress.
“One’s HIV status was not the standard to measure their ability to love and procreate,” Dr Ayisi Addo made the remarks at the fifth edition of the GNA-Tema Stakeholder Engagement and Worker’s Appreciation Day, a Seminar organized by the Tema Office of the Ghana News Agency.
The monthly Stakeholder Engagement is a progressive media caucus platform created to give opportunity to state and non-state stakeholders to interact with journalists, and address national issues.
Dr Ayisi Addo speaking on the topic: “Workplace policy on HIV/AIDS, who enforces it: Legal basis for churches demanding HIV/AIDS test from would be partners? Role of partners of infected individual,” questioned the rational for such mandatory screenings for only HIV and not for other STIs, health problems.
“Why would any pastor reckon that it was appropriate for such demands to be made prior to blessing couples? Under the current laws, no one, especially pastors, could demand a couple’s status before going ahead to join them in holy matrimony.”
Dr Ayisi Addo said; “if there is someone who is negative, but still wants to marry a partner who is positive, you must not prevent them in anyway; it is their responsibility to own their results and not forced to disclose it to anyone”.