Court ruling favours children orphaned by AIDS
Sunday 28 March 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: Court ruling favours children orphaned by AIDS


©  IRIN

JOHANNESBURG, 8 December (PLUSNEWS) - Orphaned HIV-positive children in South Africa will be able to access antiretroviral (ARV) treatment more easily after a High Court ruled that permission for such an intervention can now be granted by their caregivers.

The decision made by the Johannesburg High Court last week was limited to three "paediatrician working groups" in Johannesburg, the country's economic hub, attorney Liezl Gernholtz of the AIDS Law Project (ALP) told PlusNews.

The court ruled in favour of an application made by the ALP and groups of paediatricians working in Chris Hani Baragwanath, Coronation and Johannesburg General hospitals, who challenged existing legislation that prevented orphaned HIV-infected children from receiving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

According to the country's Child Care Act, a doctor must obtain permission from parents or a guardian before giving medical treatment to a child under the age of 14. If the child has neither parents nor guardian, permission must be sought from the Minister of Social Development or the courts.

Caregivers or foster parents are prohibited from having orphaned children tested for HIV, or accessing treatment for them if they have the virus, creating delays and frustration for doctors trying to "save young lives", Gernholtz said.

The court's decision had "significant implications" for children in Johannesburg, where an estimated 7,000 children under the age of 14 would need ARVs. Gernholtz admitted that the issue of children receiving treatment had not been given enough attention, and The ALP would now be looking at extending the court ruling to all orphaned and vulnerable children in the country.

With the government's anticipated rollout of ARVs in the public sector, the Child Care Act could "create a barrier for orphaned and vulnerable children in receiving treatment," she noted.

"We obviously have to act with urgency in making sure that all children who need treatment can get it in the public sector," Gernholtz added.

[ENDS]

 

Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports

Cautious optimism over AIDS drug rollout,  18/Mar/04
Anti-HIV programme fails rape victims,  4/Mar/04
Mobile clinic provide sex workers with health care,  4/Mar/04
Paramedics protest "condom" memo,  27/Feb/04
ARV drug rollout urgently needed, says lobby group,  25/Feb/04

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
AEGIS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making A difference for Children Affected by AIDS

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
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