By Petru Saal
The Student HIV/AIDS Resistance Campaign hosted various seminars this week with the aim of addressing the stigma surrounding HIV positive individuals. Dean of the Law faculty, Dr Rosaan Kruger, addressed key issues at the Law and HIV/ AIDS seminar on Tuesday, 19 August.
Amongst the key issues discussed was the importance of human rights as well as the prohibitions on unfair dismissal. Kruger emphasised that the Constitution is supreme and that the rights enshrined in it act as a shield preventing others from infringing upon our freedom and dignity. “Everyone must obey this higher standing (the Constitution) and human dignity underpins our basic human rights,” she said.
Kruger stressed that we still live in a society that heavily stigmatizes people who are HIV/AIDS positive. “It is important that the Government or the University does not decree that we should not talk about HIV/AIDS. We need this open dialogue.” she said. According to Kruger the social stigma attached to HIV/AIDS does not negate that such individuals be quarantined and restricted from moving around. “People have the right to move about and life where they want to live” added Kruger.
Criminal law fourth year lecturer, Anj Haller-Barker, spoke about the disclosure of your status to your partner. She said that if one partner does not disclose his or her status to the other, a civil suit can be filled. “It is fraud if someone misrepresents their HIV/AIDS status. Such a person can even be prosecuted for attempted murder” she shared.
Even if both partners consent, an individual can still report the matter to the police within 72 hours and the accused will be ordered to be tested for HIV/AIDS within 90 days of the sexual offence. If the accused refuses to comply, a warrant of arrest will be issued. However, Haller-Barker said that people who make malicious claims will be brought to justice. “You can be prosecuted if you report a sexual assault in order to know an individual’s status,” she said. If the accused is found not guilty of the sexual offence, blood results will be destroyed.