People living with HIV/AIDS have the same rights as everyone else. People diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are strongly protected by the law. This protection reaches all aspects of their lives.

HIV/AIDS and human right to human dignity
Everyone has the right to have their dignity respected and protected. A person or institution (e.g. a hospital or company) may not insult or damage any person’s self-respect, by their words or action.

HIV/AIDS and human right to freedom of expression
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to receive or give out information or ideas. This right is important as a way to ensure that the proper information about how to prevent HIV is available in schools or prisons.

HIV/AIDS and human right to freedom of association
Everyone has the right to freedom of association. You can join any organisation or group you choose. You cannot be forcefully separated from other people.

HIV/AIDS and human right to freedom of movement
All citizens have the right to enter, to remain in and live anywhere in the country. If you have HIV or Aids, you are free to move around the country.


It is your right to make your own decisions about your pregnancy and medical treatment. No one can force you to terminate your pregnancy because you are HIV positive.

HIV/AIDS and human right to privacy

  • People with HIV infection and AIDS have the right to confidentiality and privacy about their health and HIV status.
  • Health care professionals are ethically and legally required to keep all information about clients or patients confidential.
  • Information about a person’s HIV status may not be disclosed to anybody without that person’s fully informed consent.
  • After death, the HIV status of the deceased person may not be disclosed to anybody without the consent of his or her family or partner – except when required by law.
  • No person may be tested for HIV infection without his or her free and informed consent (except in the case of anonymous epidemiological screening programmes undertaken by authorised agencies such as the national, provincial or local health authorities.)
  • Informed consent, which includes pre-HIV test counselling, is compulsory before HIV testing may be carried out.

HIV/AIDS and human right at work

  • As an employee, you are not legally obliged to disclose your status to your employer or anyone else.
  • If you do choose to disclose your status to anyone – your direct manager, your HR manager or any of your colleagues – they are forbidden to share it without your consent.
  • If your current employer, or someone who is considering employing you, attempts to make you have an HIV test, you have the right to say no.
  • If your status is known, you are not allowed to be victimised by your employer or your co-workers under any circumstances.
  • You cannot be demoted or dismissed based on your HIV status.
  • The only time an employer may dismiss someone is when they become too ill to do their job. Even then, that person may only be dismissed after the employer has followed “rigorous procedures” and tried to find alternative employment for the employee in question.
  • You are entitled to the same benefits as any employee without HIV.

If you have any questions about HIV or Aids, you can phone the free 24-hour AIDS Helpline at 0800 012 322

If you feel that your rights are being violated, you can report this to the South African Human Rights Commission. You can also approach any of the NPO’s in the health sector supporting people living with HIV.