Amid protests from Papuans and NGOs, the Papua provincial legislative council is set to pass a bylaw on HIV/AIDS that includes a controversial article requiring certain people living with the disease to be implanted with a microchip.
“If the draft bylaw is passed, it will violate the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS because they will be implanted with microchips,” said Constan Karma, executive director of the Papua AIDS Commission (KPAD).
Councilor John Manangsang said the microchips would only be implanted in people living with HIV/AIDS who were deemed to be “aggressive”.
“Aggressive means actively seeking sexual intercourse. This is one way to protect healthy people,” he said.
“Do not misunderstand human rights; if we respect the rights of the people living with HIV/AIDS, then we must also respect the rights of healthy people.”
He said the public should judge the bylaw draft as a whole rather than by is constituent articles.
“The draft, for example, requires everyone to take HIV/AIDS tests so that preventative measures can be taken early on,” he said.
“I am a doctor, saving lives is my profession. If we want to save the only limited number of Papuans, we have to take real action because 47 percent of (the country’s) HIV/AIDS (cases) are in Papua.”
The 40-article-long bylaw also stipulates that the KPAD executive director should be a physician who understands epidemiology, the roles of religious institutions and audit the accreditation of NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS.
A liaison officer of the West Papua chapter of Save Papua, Gunawan, said he disagreed with the bylaw.
“People with HIV/AIDS do not always have sex, especially those with AIDS. They can no longer perform sexual intercourse,” he said, perhaps referring to the moral obligation of people living with HIV/AIDS to not risk spreading the disease.
“And how do you measure aggressiveness?” he added.
Indonesia would be the worst human rights violator if people living with HIV/AIDS in the country were implanted with microchips, Gunawan said.
“Let’s see how the Papuans respond to the bylaw. It will suffer the same fate as the pornography law,” he said.
Enita T. Rouw, coordinator of the Papua branch of the Indonesian Network of People Infected with HIV, said incidences of discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS had declined.
“However, the stigmatization is still there,” she said. “So please don’t use microchips. We’re humans, not animals.”
The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Papua is increasing, with 319 new cases reported so far this year as of October, taking the total to 4,114 reported cases, Constan said earlier this month.