South African Government Does Not Automatically Ban HIV-Positive People From National Defense Force, Spokesperson Says
October 24, 2003
The South African government does not automatically exclude individuals from the South African National Defence Force solely because they are HIV-positive, government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said on Wednesday, SAPA/News24.com reports (SAPA/News24.com, 10/22). South African Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota earlier this month said that "anybody with the condition of HIV cannot be recruited into the defense force. There's no point. You can't put ill people into positions in the army. It's not useful" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16). Since then, Lekota's statements have been "widely criticized," and some attorneys have called the government's stated stance on SANDF recruits unconstitutional, SAPA/News24.com reports (SAPA/News24.com, 10/22). The South African AIDS advocacy group AIDS Law Project last week announced plans to sue the government over the policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16). However, Netshitenzhe said that Lekota's words may have been distorted. He said the government's policy for SANDF is to evaluate recruits on the basis of several criteria including height, weight, vision, hearing and whether the person has diseases such as hepatitis or HIV. Netshitenzhe said, "On the basis of the overall assessment of the individual, and treating each case on its merits, they would then decide whether a person is fit to join the military section of the SANDF." In addition, Netshitenzhe said that SANDF members who test positive for HIV are not removed from service but are offered counseling and treatment, according to SAPA/News24.com (SAPA/News24.com, 10/22).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.