Former South African Prison Inmate Awarded ‘Landmark’ Court Settlement After Being Infected With HIV in Prison
A former South African prison inmate who sued the South Africa Department of Correctional Services after he was infected with HIV in prison has been awarded a "landmark" out-of-court settlement, officials said on Wednesday, Reuters/New Zealand Herald reports (Reuters/New Zealand Herald, 2/13). The inmate, who was referred to only as P.W., was incarcerated at Pollsmoor Prison from November 1993 to December 1994; tested positive for HIV on November 27, 1994; and filed the $132,500 suit in 1997. P.W. alleged that prison authorities knew that sex among prisoners was "common" and that a "material portion" of the prisoners were HIV-positive, but he claimed that authorities did nothing to prevent sex between prisoners and failed to provide sexually active inmates with condoms. P.W., who had a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive man, added that if prison policies were different, he would not have been able to have such a relationship or would have been able to reduce his risk of acquiring HIV by using condoms (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/10/02). Under the terms of the settlement, the Department of Corrections "denied any liability" for P.W.'s infection but admitted that prisoners were not allowed to have condoms until 1996, when the department's policy changed. However, department spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs declined to give further details of the settlement. The out-of-court agreement was "confidential," so the settlement may not establish a legal precedent that could encourage others to sue, according to Reuters/New Zealand Herald (Reuters/New Zealand Herald, 2/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.