Uzbekistan to Require HIV Test

by Nathan Hamm on 9/19/2003

Uzbekistan to Require HIV Test for Marriages
This Eurasianet
story reports that starting January 1, all couples wishing to get
married will need to be tested for HIV and a bunch of other things:

As of January 1, couples in Uzbekistan will have to
undergo tests for HIV, as well as for venereal diseases and
psychological disorders, before the state will register their marriage.
The government says the law aims to fulfill standing provisions of the
Family Code, and “to create favorable conditions for healthy families,
and prevent the birth of children with hereditary afflictions and
congenital diseases.”

So there’s some eugenics in there as well it looks like, but I digress.
The testing for HIV is ultimately a futile act, but a noteworthy
gesture. On the one hand, it’s a recognition by the Uzbek government
that HIV and other STDs are a problem that they need to address; a big
step for a country that has been in collective denial about the
possibility for HIV to run rampant through their population.
At the same time, marriage is more about parents and social standing
than love in Uzbekistan. The most important thing for parents in
Uzbekistan, especially in rural areas, is to have a large wedding and
for the child to be married before they are “old” (for women, 24; but
men can get married whenever, but usually about the same age as women).
I met plenty of young men who had to marry women their parents chose
rather than the woman they loved because parents refuse permission.
This is actually a fascinating process, by the way. The parents meet
and the daughter is presented. The mother-in-law-to-be scrutinizes the
ability of her son’s potential wife to serve tea properly and with the
right amount of servility. This is a serious business, the mother is
buying her ticket out of house-work and looking for a good “kaelin,”
who, in more traditional families has to wear the customary costume for
three years.
The bottom line here is that men marry women they don’t care for, and
who in most cases are only one of many sexual partners. Testing for HIV
with couples might help a bit, but the key to fighting its spread in
Uzbekstain (as in most places where HIV is starting to spread) is

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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