South Africa: Bid to Force Prison to Honor AIDS Ruling
July 13, 2006
The AIDS Law Project (ALP) was expected to file an application in the Durban High Court on Wednesday for interim execution of a judicial order forcing Westville Prison to promptly supply HIV-positive inmates with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).
The department of corrections said it is seeking an appeal of Judge Thumba Pillay's order before the full bench of the Durban High Court. By filing an interim execution, ALP hopes to ensure that infected prisoners at Westville have access to ARVs during the lengthy appeal process.
In May, ALP lodged an urgent application that sought the immediate removal of all restrictions that prevented 15 HIV-positive prisoners from accessing ARVs. Westville's operational plan, which requires infected inmates to undergo four counseling sessions before receiving treatment, was an impediment, the prisoners said.
Pillay granted the order giving the corrections department and the prison until last Friday to demonstrate to the prisoners and the court how the plan could be improved to speed up treatment.
With just one appointment a day for four days a week, the court argued it would take a year before all HIV-positive prisoners at Westville received ARVs. The corrections department responded by filing an appeal to allow it to establish a comprehensive treatment and care plan that would cover most prisons.
"The appeal process will prejudice the prisoners who will be unable to get treatment," said ALP attorney Michelle Govender. "For the ailing prisoners, this is a matter of life and death."
Govender said the interim execution application is expected to be heard next week at the same time as the department's appeal application.
Business Day (Johannesburg)
07.12.2006; Ernest Mabuza
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.