Mandatory Premarital HIV Testing: An Overview

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Over the past decade, a growing number of religious communities, national governments, and state, city, and village governments have adopted mandatory premarital HIV testing policies. In many cases, people who test positive for HIV are forbidden from entering into marriage.

This trend infringes upon the human rights of people living with HIV and threatens the three key principles of HIV testing: that individuals freely consent to testing; that counseling is provided before and after testing; and that results are kept confidential.

This booklet prepared by the Open Society Public Health Program provides an overview of policies and practices mandating HIV testing for couples. It presents research findings on mandatory premarital HIV testing from more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It also offers recommendations for ending mandatory testing and expanding access to voluntary HIV testing and counseling programs.