Military AIDS Policy Followed by SA Challenged in Court

by Rajshri on  May 16, 2008 at 2:34 PM AIDS/HIV News   - G J E 4
Lawyers have told a court in South Africa that the military's exclusion of HIV positive members is not medically justified.
 Military AIDS Policy Followed by SA Challenged in Court
Military AIDS Policy Followed by SA Challenged in Court

A lawyer for the South African Security Forces Union, which is attempting to force the military to review its HIV-AIDS policy, said the army had failed to implement its own and the government's policies.

"The HIV policy adopted by the cabinet in relation to the military and the department of defence is not consistent with the policy implemented by the SANDF (South African National Defence Forces)," lawyer Gilbert Marcus told a hearing at the high court in Pretoria.

"The cabinet has adopted a policy that HIV status should not exclude candidates from appointments to the SANDF, although it may preclude their appointment to positions that require extreme physical fitness."

Marcus said the SANDF's AIDS policy prohibits HIV positive people from being recruited, employed abroad or promoted if they are found to be positive during mandatory HIV testing.

This despite the fact that aviation policy allows HIV positive pilots to fly and infected soldiers are deployed within the country despite being considered "not combat ready".

The applicants argued that the military's response had been evasive and contradictory and want the top brass to implement individual assessments.

According to Marcus, the SANDF has admitted that some 23 percent of its members are HIV positive.

"It is simply impossible at this stage to have an HIV-free defence force. The question is how do we accommodate this."

South Africa has the highest number of HIV sufferers in the world with around 5.5 million of the 47 million population affected by the virus.

Source: AFP

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