South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 5.5 million people are estimated to be living with HIV, resulting in many dying prematurely in South Africa.

People living with HIV and Aids are often excluded from full participation in many areas of their lives. This is because of high HIV and Aids stigmatisation. This type of discrimination impacts on their lives and their families. Family members of those affected are entitled to receive counselling and other interventions from Health and Social Welfare agencies.

Human rights, as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, are important in the fight against HIV and Aids. An open and supportive right-based approach is essential to ensure that everyone enjoys full access to healthcare. This means that people living with HIV and Aids should have access to long-term treatment, care and support. They should be able to live from fear, violence and discrimination.

Increasing number of people living with HIV & Aids care deprived of the possibility of living a secure and fulfilling life consistent with the right to health care and the enjoyment of other human rights.

If  you are living with HIV and/or Aids, you have rights like anyone else, and you should not be discriminated based on your HIV positive status. Your rights include:

  • Being treated with respect
  • Having the right to privacy and human dignity
  • Having equal access to all services including health care, food, water and social security
  • To freely express yourself
  • Not to be discriminated at the workplace
  • To live your life free from violence and intimidation
  • Discrimination known commonly occur in some of the following areas:
  • Medical Aid scheme;
  • Insurance;
  • Education;
  • Housing; and
  • Travelling


Information has a vital role in empowering you and others to make informed choices about your health and the environment in which you live and work. Information also helps people living with HIV and Aids to make informed choices about their health, and to follow the best available treatment.

Information that is held by a public (government) or private institution should be made available to you when you need it, for example, your hospital records.

Information can sometimes be restricted, but you have the right according to Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2 of 2000 (PAIA), to know why you have been denied access to the information you need.

Information sharing is key in dealing with HIV and Aids. Your right to access information should never be compromised unlawfully by people or groups who exercise power over it.

The right is yours and you are entitled to it. Contact PAIA Unit of the South African Human Rights Commission to learn more about the Access to Information Act.

People living with HIV and Aids also need access to preventative measures and medical care for opportunistic infections like Tuberculosis (TB).

Treatment must include all necessary interventions including dietary guidance, counselling and Anti-Retrovirals (ARV).

Many people living with HIV and Aids find that they are treated differently from other patients and are vulnerable to breaches of confidentiality.

These are mostly poor people and persons from vulnerable groups who are unable to pay for treatment or for transport to reach centres that are providing treatment.

The issue which people living with HIV and Aids experience daily are rumours. Apart from health interventions, there are many other institutions and organisation to help uphold these rights. Some of these include the SAHRC, the Equality Courts, various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and legal advice centres.

The South African Human Rights Commission has accessible office in every Province to assist you.

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