The Livingstone High Court will this Wednesday hear a ground breaking case on whether mandatory testing for HIV and discrimination solely on the basis of HIV status is constitutional in Zambia.
The case, Kingaipe and Another v Attorney General, involves two former Zambian Air Force (ZAF) employees, Stanley Kingaipe and Charles Chookole who were allegedly subjected to mandatory testing for HIV without their knowledge and dismissed due to their HIV status.
The two are seeking reinstatement and damage for mental and emotional anguish.
This is contained in a joint press statement by Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Zambian AIDS Law Research and Advocacy Network (ZARAN) and made available in Livingstone today.
According to the statement Kingaipe and Chookole were allegedly subjected to an HIV test without their consent and given anti-retroviral treatment without their knowledge in 2001.
And in October 2001, without their knowledge and participation, a medical Board reviewed their medical records and declared them permanently unfit for service but continued to work at the ZAF for a full year after the Board’s decision.
The statement indicated that they both performed very well in their job that one of the applicants was promoted during that time until October 2002 when they were both dismissed
Priti Patel, a lawyer with SALC stated in a statement that there is no legitimate medical or policy reason for discriminating against HIV positive persons in the military and subjecting them to testing without their consent.
Mrs. Patel challenged Zambia to send a clear message to the military that such unlawful treatment will not be tolerated.
And Dimuna Phiri, a paralegal with ZARAN stated that the testing of individuals without their consent not only violates fundamental rights guaranteed in the Zambian Constitution, but also has been shown to have harmful public health consequences by increasing stigma and further pushing HIV into the shadows.
SALC and ZARAN are assisting the Legal Resources Foundation of Zambia in the case.