Indian state plans mandatory HIV tests before marriage

The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is planning to make HIV testing mandatory for couples planning to get married.

It is the latest move by the state hit hardest by HIV and AIDS, with over a million of the country's 5.7 million cases.

"This is an attempt to say that HIV is not a problem of truckers and lower segment of society. Anybody can be affected and everybody should be tested," G. Ashok Kumar, director of Andhra Pradesh Aids Control Society, told the Associated Press late Thursday.

The United Nations said earlier this year that India has the highest number of HIV infections in the world, although its tally is significantly less than 1 percent of its population of over 1 billion.

"Once the law is in place, such a test will be compulsory for registration of marriage," the state's health minister, K. Roshaiah, said earlier this week.

Marriages in India are still mostly arranged by families, and those getting married often have no knowledge of a prospective spouse's sexual history.

Andhra Pradesh has also recently launched a "Be Bold. Know Your HIV Status" campaign, aiming to encourage voluntary blood tests.

The state's chief minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy a medical doctor himself was among the first to be tested earlier this week, saying he was doing so "to set an example for everybody in the state."

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