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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 12:05 GMT
SA prisoner gets HIV pay-out
Pollsmoor prison
Some 41% of South African prisoners have HIV
A South Africa ex-convict with HIV has reached an out-of-court settlement after suing the prison authorities.

The prisoner, known only as PW, claimed that he contracted HIV, which can lead to Aids, in prison, where he had unprotected sex with a fellow inmate.

PW was in prison in 1993-4, when condoms were banned, before the policy was changed in 1996.

Some 4.5 million South Africans are HIV positive - around one person in nine.

No precedent

The Department of Correctional Services denied liability under the terms of the deal and has refused to say how much the settlement was worth.

PW had originally sued for 1.1 million rand ($132,500) because he had not been warned about the dangers of unprotected sex.

Aids campaigner
Aids activists accuse the government of ignoring the problem

Aids campaigners say the deal does not necessarily set a legal precedent because the details remain confidential.

"A material portion of prisoners were HIV-positive at the time. It is inevitable that prisoners who engaged in sex would have been infected with the HIV virus," PW said in court papers, adding that officials were aware of sex between prisoners.

He said he would not have had sex and, subsequently, contracted the virus, had he known of the risk.

Some 41% of South African prisoners have HIV, according to research published last year by KC Goyer from the South African Institute for Security Studies.

Activists say that overcrowding means that rape has become commonplace.


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12 Feb 03 | Africa
30 Jan 03 | Americas
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