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A court in Uganda sentenced a nurse to three years in jail after the woman was found guilty of trying to infect a child with HIV. But the verdict was not without controversy, as nurses and activists came out to fight on the woman’s behalf.

Rosemary Namubiru is a 64-year old woman who also knows the distress of being HIV positive herself. She says that she didn’t try to infect the baby, who turned out to be OK, but that it was a mistake.

Throughout the trial, Namubiru insisted that she was innocent. She says that she accidentally pricked herself one day at work and wasn’t aware that she was using the same contaminated needle to give an injection to a baby. But the child’s mother was watching the situation closely and realized that the needle had not been changed. That’s when she told authorities what happened.

Rosemary Namubiru
Rosemary Namubiru

The defendant had been denied bail by a judge who felt that she was a danger to the public. Fortunately, the baby is safe from harm.

Activists say that the woman has been stigmatized due to her HIV-positive status. They believe that she should have instead been faced with disciplinary hearings from her profession and punished for negligence, rather than be criminally prosecuted.

Global Access Project, a New York-based advocacy group, says that the ruling has a series of very serious problems.

“The deeply flawed ruling shows that stigma and discrimination against people with HIV is alive and well in Uganda,” said Asia Russell, Director of Policy.

“Because of her HIV status, Rosemary’s trial was plagued from the beginning with bias. Rosemary never had the presumption of innocence the Constitution guarantees.”

In the media, Namubiru was called “the killer nurse.” According to the most recent data, 7.3% of the Ugandan population is HIV positive. They’ve joined 59 other countries that have criminalized the transmission of HIV to an unwilling partner or patient.

(via The Medical Blog)

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