Do prisoners in South Africa have a constitutional right to a holistic approach to antiretroviral treatment?

Nasreen Motala, David Jan McQuoid-Mason


The prevalence of AIDS in prisons is believed to be higher than in the broader community. While the courts have used their powers to enforce prisoners’ rights in terms of the Constitution, specifically their right to medical treatment, the state needs to adopt a holistic approach when providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for prisoners. Failing to provide support for ART, beyond its mere provision, would offend the values of the Constitution. This support includes comprehensive HIV and AIDS care and prevention, treatment of opportunistic infections, access to nutritional supplements, access to palliative care and compassionate release. Counteracting challenges to the implementation of effective treatment, care and support strategies will require committed endeavours by the Department of Correctional Services.

Authors' affiliations

Nasreen Motala, Occupational Therapist in Private Practice, Durban, South Africa

David Jan McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban, South Africa

Full Text



Prisoners; Constitution; HIV/AIDS; Antiretrovirals; Holistic treatment; Infections; Nutrition; Care; Release

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2013;6(2):40-44. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.290

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-09-20
Date published: 2013-10-24

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