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Opposition Senator Dwight Nelson, has called on the government to amend the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, to make it illegal for employers to screen prospective employees for HIV/AIDS.
In a resolution brought before the Senate on Friday (Oct.13), Senator Nelson noted that the practice, which he claimed was widespread among Jamaican workplaces, was discriminatory as a prerequisite for employment.
The practice, he said further, violated the “fundamental principles and rights at work, undermines efforts for prevention and care and transgresses the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Conventions 111 and 115, which Jamaica has ratified”.
Senator Nelson’s resolution comes in the wake of calls from Chief of Epidemiology and AIDS in the Ministry of Health, Professor Peter Figueroa, that HIV/AIDS testing must only be done at the discretion of the worker.
Citing the National Policy on HIV/AIDS, which was accepted unanimously by Parliament last year, Professor Figueroa outlined that, “HIV testing should not be conducted for purposes of employment. This policy is critical in order to avoid discrimination against employing persons, who are living with HIV/AIDS”.
While stating that he was in support of health programmes at workplaces, which included private and confidential medicals with voluntary HIV testing, Professor Figueroa said there was no justification for excluding persons living with HIV from the workplace.