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When the chips are down

This Magazine Staff

A “detection device is needed to monitor the movements and sexual activities of people with HIV/AIDS.” So says a new regulation currently under debate in the Indonesian province of Papua, according to today’s Jakarta Post. The device they are considering? An implanted microchip.
A member of the working group currently considering Article 35 of new healthcare policy says the rising rates of HIV infection justify the restrictive measure. Dr John Manansang stated, “Now nearly 24 percent of the Papuan population has been infected with HIV/AIDS. It’s time to try a different policy.” Manansang added that only those who engage in unprotected sex or the sharing of needles would be chipped and tracked.
The heads of the National AIDS Committee as well the Papua Health Office have both pointed out their organizations have not been consulted about the legislation, and questioned how it could possibly be carried out. The Health Office’s Bagus Sukaswara argued “Who will be in charge of implementing the policy? I’m sure no doctors will be willing to do so. Giving out the identity of the patients … would be a violation of their oaths as doctors.”
According to another Post report earlier this month, condoms are very hard to access in the remote province, and half of the populace has never even heard of HIV. Perhaps education and condom distribution might be a better starting point than an ineffective and misguided gross human-rights violation.

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