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from daijiworld's special correspondent

Panaji, Aug 6: The Goa government will discuss at the next meeting of the state Cabinet the issue of legislation on mandatory HIV tests before marriage, officials said on Friday.

"There are diverse opinions on the issue. A few find that the test should be mandatory while others say it should be voluntary. It is for the Cabinet now to take the final decision," said state Health Secretary UK Wohra.

Public hearings on this issue were held in both districts -- north and south. "We will assess the public opinion before deciding on the issue. We have got the trend about general opinion on the issue," Wohra said.

He said while some people feel the tests should be mandatory to save women from suffering, others opined that the matter should be left to the couple.

Once the state government makes up its mind on the issue, it will have to amend the state Health Act and Marriage Registration Act, he said.

About HIV/AIDS cases in Goa, Wohra said, "Goa figures in the middle risk zone. Being a tourist state, the situation may be alarming if precautions are not taken."

Quoting official figures, he said there are around 12,000 HIV-positive cases in Goa. "All need not be Goans and the figure may be much more. We are involving private hospitals to get the exact data," he said.


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