Indonesian Province Proposes Chipping People With AIDS

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2008

William F. Buckly famously wrote in a 1986 New York Times op-ed that “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.” Paul Cameron also proposed a similar solution along with quarantines.

That was more than twenty years ago. Skip ahead to 2008, where the Indonesian province of Papua is considering a 21st-century solution:

Legislators in Indonesia’s remote province of Papua have thrown their support behind a controversial bill requiring some HIV/AIDS patients to be implanted with microchips – part of extreme efforts to monitor the disease.

Health workers and rights activists sharply criticized the plan Monday. But legislator John Manangsang said by implanting small computer chips beneath the skin of “sexually aggressive” patients, authorities would be in a better position to identify, track and ultimately punish those who deliberately infect others with up to six months in jail or a $5,000 US fine.

Of course, no one can say how they intend to define “sexually aggressive.” Indonesia has one of Asia’s fastest growing HIV rates, fuelled mainly by intravenojus drug users and prostitution. Papua has been hardest hit.

Nancy Fee, the UNAIDS coordinator for Indonesia is concerned about the impact the legislation would have on prevention efforts.

“No one should be subject to unlawful or unnecessary interference of privacy,” Fee said, adding that while other countries have been known to be oppressive in trying to tackle AIDS, such policies don’t work. They make people afraid and push the problem further underground, she said.

Local health workers and AIDS activists called the plan “abhorrent.” “People with AIDS aren’t animals; we have to respect their rights,” said Tahi Ganyang Butarbutar, a prominent Papuan activist.

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