+ HIV

Victory for HIV positive man in dispute with Bonitas Medical Fund

SECTION27 is becoming increasingly aware that some medical schemes try to narrow the scope of the benefit options they offer when it comes to processing claims. This may be done, for example, by mischaracterising claims so that they fall outside benefit options, improperly imposing late joiner penalties and waiting periods, or failing to cover prescribed minimum benefits as required by law. Such practices are unlawful and violate the rights of scheme members who are forced to incur out-of-pocket medical expenses in circumstances where they are covered by their benefit options. In some cases, they may also be prevented from accessing necessary health care.

Our client, IE, has been HIV positive for 20 years and participated in early trials of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines before the conventional treatment regimens became available. As a result of his exposure to various ARV medicines and regimens over an extended period, IE began to develop fatty growths on his back and neck and was diagnosed with ARV-related lipodystrophy. On the recommendation of his physician, IE applied to Bonitas Medical Fund (Bonitas) for authorisation for the surgical removal of the fatty growths on his body.

Bonitas, however, refused to cover the medical procedure on the basis that it considered the procedure to be cosmetic surgery. There was no medical basis for this decision. Bonitas failed to consider all the relevant information before it and mischaracterised the claim as cosmetic in order to avoid its legal obligation to cover IE’s costs. Following SECTION27’s intervention on behalf of IE, the claim was authorised with retrospective effect and IE was reimbursed most of his out-of-pocket expenses.

Insurance products for people living with HIV

Many people living with HIV continue to face unfair discrimination in various aspects of their lives. SECTION27 often receives reports from people who are denied access to insurance products solely on the basis that they are HIV positive, or are offered cover at what appear to be highly inflated prices.
SECTION27 recently met with representatives of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) to raise concerns we have regarding the current approaches and practices of the insurance industry in relation to HIV.

Millions call for freedom for Chinese HIV/AIDS activist Tian Xi

Yesterday, March 1st 2011, a memorandum was sent to the highest officials in the UN, UNAIDS, WHO and the Chinese government. It is signed by more than 120 organisations, from across the world, including many within China. It is signed by prominent individuals, human rights organisations and trade unions, including the powerful two million member COSATU.

SECTION27 Senior Researcher delivers prestigious lecture

On 27 February Jonathan Berger, a senior researcher at SECTION27 and head of our policy unit, delivered the 2nd Martin Delaney Lecture at the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

Judgment reaffirms rights of people with HIV to non-discrimination in employment

SECTION27 welcomes the judgment handed down by Judge Bhoola today in the Labour Court in the case of Gary Shane Allpass v Mooikloof Estates (Pty) Ltd.

The case concerns the unfair dismissal in 2008 of a horse riding instructor on the grounds of his HIV status. The ruling follows the institution of legal proceedings on behalf of Mr Allpass by Webber Wentzel Attorneys, with the assistance of SECTION27. In her judgment, Judge Bhoola noted that “this court is indebted to the AIDS Law Project for its assistance.” SECTION27 incorporates the AIDS Law Project.