Chile – Law reform will allow adolescents to get tested

  • October 5, 2015
  • News

jovenes latnoamericaIn the past five years, the number of adolescents with HIV increased by 86 percent. An alarming figure that prompted Chilean authorities to think in more and better access to services for this population group.

It is being considered a law that would allow teenagers to get tested without the consent of their parents. This initiative has the support and resources of political sectors and it is supported by various organizations of civil society, since it is conceived as an opportunity to advance in the comprehensive prevention of HIV in the country.

The draft law presented by a group of Senators of all political sectors, was widely welcomed in the Senate after the adoption the first days of September by the Health Commission and the agreement with the Executive to write a targeted indication to properly support the minor whose HIV test results positive.

According to one study, in Chile, the number of teenagers with HIV is greater than officially. This is due to the obstacles that discourage minors to get tested, since the AIDS Act, in its article 5, provides that “the test for the human immunodeficiency virus will always be confidential and voluntary, and must record in writing the consent of the interested party or their legal representative”. The reality is very different, many adolescents are afraid to tell their parents, so they never get tested and put their lives at risk.

A central point in the discussion of the project, relates to the ability of adolescents to make decisions regarding their sexuality, in this context the same Foundation said that “an adolescent is an individual able to understand and demand their rights and; therefore, also to assume their responsibility for a procedure of detection of the disease”.

In this regard, UNICEF has recognized the right of adolescents to know about HIV, that includes access to information about sex and sexuality; to basic facts about HIV and AIDS; and other sexually transmitted infections; to the knowledge of the skills enabling them to protect themselves; to know their HIV status; to know where to find affective and psychological support; to know about HIV education programs for adolescents and to get involved in such, and have clarity about their rights

On the other hand, it is essential for the country to adopt a national plan for sexual education, which addresses issues of affectivity and sexuality in the light of the international guidelines on Human Rights. Chile supported the statement “Prevent with education”, an international instrument which, unfortunately, does not have a practical application in the national reality.

This legal initiative is an opportunity for recognition and autonomy in the rights, duties and responsibilities of adolescents and young people allowing them to participate in the decisions that affect their health, respecting their right to confidentiality and privacy.