UN Peacekeepers and HIV/AIDS: Testing Times

Soldiers are a key risk group in the spread of HIV and AIDS. The disease is a threat to individuals and a strategic issue for their commanders. UN peacekeepers are also coming under scrutiny, raising important questions of health and rights.

The World Today Published 1 May 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 4 minute READ

Roxanne Bazergan

Research Officer with the Conflict, Security and Development Group, Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London

In a letter to the UN Security Council in March, Eritrea reiterated its request that peacekeepers with the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) be screened for HIV/AIDS: ‘… we appeal to troop contributing countries to understand our concern. Eritrea is at the moment engaged in a very rigorous national campaign to prevent the spread of AIDS … this is not a discriminatory practice targeted at UNMEE, but it is a standard national practice that has been in effect since 1993. Routine testing of the Eritrean army is conducted as a matter of policy based on the recognition that the army is one of the most sexually active segments of the population’.

UN Resolution 1308, adopted in July last year, underscores the need for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to incorporate HIV/AIDS prevention awareness skills and advice in its training for peacekeepers. It also encourages contributing nations to carry out voluntary and confidential HIV/AIDS testing and counselling.

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