For about six million South Africans, living with HIV/Aids comes with the threat of unfair discrimination.
An estimated six million South Africans are infected with HIV/Aids, today. Access to progressive treatment, fairness in the workplace and the right to privacy are all serious issues that have elicited strong debate in the past.
As we celebrate World Aids Day (December 1), Werksmans Attorneys director of Healthcare & Life Sciences Law, Neil Kirby says the application of law to protect those living with this life threatening illness has always been a crucial layer of protection from unfair discrimination.
He says unfair discrimination is one area where HIV positive people suffer abuse, and common law and statutory law offer such a person legal redress.
“South African statutory law is most certainly inclusive of express measures to prevent unfair discrimination. “
The statutes that expressly deal with matters pertaining to HIV are the Bill of Rights in South Africa’s Constitution and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act No. 4 of 2000. There are also codes of good practice outlined in terms of the provisions of Labour Relations Act No. 66 of 1995 and the Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998.
“I am astonished that, in this day and age and after what we have been through in so far as dealing with HIV and AIDS in South Africa is concerned, unfair discrimination against those living with HIV continues. Obviously, there needs to be on-going, high-profile discussion around matters of the continued existence of unfair discrimination against those living with HIV with reference to the harm such discrimination does to our society generally and the individual particularly and with reference to the legal prohibitions on the existence of such discrimination. “
He says society needs to continue to have discussions and take action on these matters until unfair discrimination is eradicated.
LEX Africa member firm in South Africa is Avocats Werksmans