Two Vertical Transmission-Related Lawsuits Against South African Health Officials Could Coincide in Court
The Treatment Action Campaign's lawsuit against the South African government over access to nevirapine for pregnant women could come to court at the same time as a lawsuit filed on behalf of a six-month-old infant who contracted HIV from her mother, the Lancet reports. In its lawsuit, TAC is asking that the government allow public-sector doctors to "prescribe and dispense nevirapine at the request of any pregnant woman," not just those enrolled in the government's 18 pilot projects to test the use of the drug. TAC also wants the South African government to develop "clear time frames" for implementing a program to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Judgment on the case might come in February, in which case it would coincide with the lawsuit filed on behalf of the infant (Baleta, Lancet, 11/3). Attorneys representing the infant, supported by the AIDS Law Project and TAC, are suing South African health authorities for negligence for failing to inform the mother of means available to reduce the risk of vertical transmission. The infant's mother says that she was never asked about her HIV status while regularly attending antenatal classes at the Ka-Nyamazane clinic at Rob Ferreira Hospital, and although she underwent repeated blood tests, no one ever discussed with her the results. Richard Spoor, the attorney representing the infant with assistance from the AIDS Law Project, has served a letter of demand on Mpumalanga Health Minister Sibongile Manana seeking $76,000 in damages (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/22). Spoor told the Lancet that Manana will contest the allegations, a statement verified by Mpumalanga health department spokesperson Dumisani Mlangeni (Lancet, 11/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.