Human rights under threat: Four perspectives on HIV, AIDS and the law in Southern Africa
Edited by Frans Viljoen and Susan Precious
ISBN: 978-0-9802658-2-8
Pages: 195
Print version: Available
Electronic version: Free PDF available

Download this book

About the publication

Despite the fact that Southern Africa is the epicenter of the HIV epidemic, there is a shortage of research and reflection coming from the sub-region itself. With the support of Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit, based at the Centre for the Study of AIDS and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in 2006 engaged in a research project to give a voice to Southern African perspectives on issues pertaining to HIV, AIDS, law and human rights. Four researchers were selected to address four human rights-related issues of increasing importance in the context of HIV and AIDS in the sub-region. These issues are:

  1. legislation criminalising the wilful transmission of HIV;
  2. policies aimed at routinely testing individuals attending public health facilities;
  3. policies and practices aimed at withholding or denying access to HIV- related treatment and prevention to people living with HIV, particularly men in prisons; and
  4. policies, practices and laws that limit access to medicines, in particular the lack of domestication and use of flexibilities allowed for under the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

The researchers were hosted by four research institutions in Southern Africa, where they prepared research papers. These institutions are: the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), based in Windhoek, Namibia; the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), based in Gaborone, Botswana; the Law and Development Unit, Faculty of Law, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi; and the AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. This publication brings together these papers, an introduction, and some useful SADC instruments. An independent peer review of the papers was conducted before publication.

Information on the AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit

The AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit (AIDS Research Unit or Unit) was founded as a collaboration between the Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) and the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), both based at the University of Pretoria. Launched in 2005, the AIDS Research Unit promotes research that situates HIV and AIDS within a rights-based framework, adopting a rights-based approach. Through this research new questions are asked, new explanations and knowledge are sought, new understandings of the epidemic and effective responses generated and new formulation of international trade regimes, policy and programmes developed.

About the Editors:

Frans Viljoen is Director at the Centre for Human Rights and Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Pretoria.
Susan Precious practices civil litigation, administrative law and constitutional law for clients in the health, insurance, policing, class action and privacy contexts.

 Table of Contents


  1. Introduction: Human rights under threat in attempts to address HIV and AIDS
    by Frans Viljoen and Susan Precious
  2. Pandora’s box: The criminalisation of HIV transmission or exposure in SADC countries
    by Patrick M Eba
  3. Routine HIV testing of individuals attending public health facilities: Are SADC countries ready?
    by Nyasha C Chingore
  4. The human rights and public health implications of restricting prisoners’ access to HIV prevention and treatment in SADC countries
    by Babafemi Odunsi
  5. The realisation of access to HIV and AIDS-related medicines in Southern African counries: Possibilties and actual realisation of international law obligations
    by Dorothy Mushayavanhu


  • A SADC Treaty – excerpts
  • B SADC Protocol on Health – excerpts
  • C Code on HIV/AIDS and Employment in SADC
  • D Maseru Declaration on HIV/AIDS


Download this book


ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognised. If you do not have such an ID, please register at the website