Are you HIV-positive? Know your rights!

The South African Constitution has a Bill of Rights that protects all people, and does not discriminate against those with HIV/AIDS. These rights pertain issues relating to life, dignity, privacy, freedom and others.

Here are some the most important rights for people living with HIV/AIDS to keep in mind.

  • Any person living with HIV/AIDS has the right to welfare services, as well as medical treatment and care. This includes reproductive healthcare. Women infected with HIV have the right to make choices about their pregnancy, and cannot be forced to terminate her pregnancy only because she is HIV-positive.
  • People with HIV/AIDS have the right to make any decisions pertaining to marriage and having children, and counselling should be provided regarding the consequences of these decisions.
  • Medical schemes/aids may not turn away a potential client because they are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Children have the right to attend any school, regardless of their HIV/AIDS status.
  • No person with HIV/AIDS is allowed to be isolated in prisons or hospitals due to their status.
  • Employers are not allowed to insist applicants have an HIV test before they are employed, or during their term of employment. Employers also can’t fire or retrench an employee, nor can they refuse them a job, based on their HIV-status.
  • Persons living with HIV/AIDS have a right to confidentiality – no one can share information about anyone else’s HIV-status without their explicit consent.
  • In certain emergency situations, HIV testing may be undertaken without informed consent. However, this may only take place after the patient has been told the test will be performed and assured that the results will be confidential.
  • The HIV status of a deceased person may not be disclosed to anybody without the consent of the family or partner – except when required by law.
  • Although it is not required by law, everyone has a moral obligation to tell their sexual partners if they are HIV-positive.
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