SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
Following years of negotiations between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) regarding the SANDF’s old health classification policy that excluded people living with HIV from recruitment, external deployment and promotion in the military, in 2008 the North Gauteng High Court settled the matter. Pursuant to an out of court settlement between the two parties, the Court declared such policy as unconstitutional to the extent that it violated the rights of aspirant and serving members of the SANDF to equality and dignity, among other rights.
SECTION27 welcomes the judgment from the Supreme Court of the United States in USAID v AOSI. The judgment declared a law making the denunciation of sex work a requirement to be eligible to receive funding from the US to combat HIV an unconstitutional violation of the right to freedom of speech. The judgment opens the door for much needed and previously prohibited work to realize the rights of sex workers and other people living with HIV or at risk of becoming infected with HIV.
The 6th South African AIDS Conference opened last night in Durban. Sifiso Nkala of the TAC took the stage and accepted the Dira Sengwe Leadership Award on behalf of the TAC. The award “recognises ethical beacons and leaders in AIDS” and was awarded to the TAC in recognition of its critical role in the HIV movement since its inception.
The conference, as the HIV movement more broadly, must be led by the people for whom the ideas and decisions discussed at it mean the most – people living with HIV, yet Sifiso was the only person openly living with HIV to share the stage at the opening ceremony. In the tradition of TAC activism, Sifiso took the opportunity of TAC’s receipt of the award to address the conference audience of around 2500 on the challenges that cripple the health system, cost lives and show that the end of AIDS is not so near as some would have us believe.
Following years of engagement with the insurance industry on the issue of the blanket refusals to provide insurance cover to individuals living with HIV, SECTION27 is encouraged that a permanent favourable solution could be found soon. This follows the recent groundbreaking commitment made by the Association for Savings & Investment South Africa (ASISA).
On 15 May 2013 the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, delivered his annual National Health budget and policy speech (here). The speech provides an opportunity for the Minister and his department to communicate progress they have made in delivering health services, the challenges they face and what they plan to do to advance the right to health.