Kenya court halts HIV data collection

Pupils, some of them orphans sit during a lesson at a Nyanyo Project's preschool in Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums on 29 November 2010 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Campaigners said the collection of the data could lead to further stigmatisation of those with HIV

A Kenyan high court has ruled that a government directive to collect data on HIV-positive schoolchildren and pregnant women is unconstitutional.

It said the move violated the rights and privacy of those living with HIV.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered that the names of HIV-positive children, their guardians and their addresses to be listed to help with the provision of health services.

But activists said the data could lead to further stigmatisation.

According to the UNAids, more than 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Kenya, including 98,000 children aged 14 and under.

The case was brought by a group of lawyers representing a Nairobi-based home for the destitute, who feared that the process used in collecting the data could push back the fight against stigmatisation.

Image caption Patricia Asero Ochieng, who is HIV positive, says the ruling will protect those with the virus from stigmatisation

The process would have directly linked a person's name to their HIV status, the group argued.

Activist and lawyer, Allan Maleche, hailed the judgement as a victory for the privacy of people living with HIV.

Patricia Asero Ochieng, who is HIV positive, said stigma was "still alive in society" the ruling would protect those with the virus from further stigmatisation.

The BBC's Ferdinand Omondi in the capital, Nairobi, says officials from education and health ministries have been gathering the information to produce a central report.

The court ordered the ministries to remove all the names gathered so far from their records.

It was not clear how much data has been collected across Kenya's 47 counties.

HIV in Kenya

Image copyright AFP
  • People of all ages living with HIV: 1.5m
  • Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: 98,000
  • Deaths due to Aids in 2015: 36,000
  • Orphans due to Aids aged 0-17: 666,000

Source: UNAids

Caring for Kenya's HIV orphans

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