The Government’s Obligation to Provide Anti-Retrovirals to HIV Positive Pregnant Women in an African Human Rights Context: The South African Nevirapine Case

In South Africa 24 per cent of pregnant women are HIV-positive. This means that between 70,000 and 100,000 babies are born HIV-positive every year. There are fairly simple procedures available to prevent Parent To Child Transmission (PTCT), the most readily to hand the anti-retroviral drugs Zidovudine and Nevirapine. Of these the second is the simplest, as the mother should be given one dose just before the birth and the baby one dose within seventy-two hours of birth. It is also very cheap, the cost amounting to four US dollars per pair. Despite what are widely held to be very pertinent advantages, the South African government, pleading safety reasons, determined to restrict the use to only 10 per cent of pregnant women in a limited number of pilot schemes. This led the people to file a complaint demanding that the treatment be available to all. Those lodging the complaint cited Section 27 of the South African constitution. Pertinently the court found for the plaintiffs, but, at the time of writing, the government was planning an appeal. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]

Title:The Government’s Obligation to Provide Anti-Retrovirals to HIV Positive Pregnant Women in an African Human Rights Context: The South African Nevirapine Case
Author:Baimu, Evarist
Year:2002
Periodical:African Human Rights Law Journal
Volume:2
Issue:1
Pages:160-174
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Abstract:In South Africa 24 per cent of pregnant women are HIV-positive. This means that between 70,000 and 100,000 babies are born HIV-positive every year. There are fairly simple procedures available to prevent Parent To Child Transmission (PTCT), the most readily to hand the anti-retroviral drugs Zidovudine and Nevirapine. Of these the second is the simplest, as the mother should be given one dose just before the birth and the baby one dose within seventy-two hours of birth. It is also very cheap, the cost amounting to four US dollars per pair. Despite what are widely held to be very pertinent advantages, the South African government, pleading safety reasons, determined to restrict the use to only 10 per cent of pregnant women in a limited number of pilot schemes. This led the people to file a complaint demanding that the treatment be available to all. Those lodging the complaint cited Section 27 of the South African constitution. Pertinently the court found for the plaintiffs, but, at the time of writing, the government was planning an appeal. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]