HIV/Aids

24 October 2011

Domestic worker’s HIV status disclosed

A domestic worker has complained to the SA Human Rights Commission about hospital staff telling her employer she is HIV positive, the Times reported.

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A domestic worker has complained to the SA Human Rights Commission about hospital staff telling her employer she is HIV positive, the Times reported.

"You are dying and pregnant... I know... the lab told me you are sick," her boss reportedly yelled at her when she arrived at work after spending three days in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Pretoria.

The 41-year-old woman was angry that a National Health Laboratory Services' technician had allegedly ignored her right to privacy and disclosed her HIV status to her employer without her consent.

"Now my employer has developed a horrible attitude towards me. She has stopped me from making her tea, she does not want me anywhere near her room and has made it clear that if I make her sick, and if it was up to her, she would fire me," the woman told the newspaper.

Employment Equity breached

In response, the laboratory services' CEO Sagie Pillay responded that the technician denied disclosing the test results. Pillay said a full investigation would be launched to identify the culprit.

"This is a breach of the Employment Equity Act which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the grounds of HIV," said Gauteng health department spokesman Mishack Magakwe.

It is totally unacceptable that she is treated differently because of her status, which the employer got illegally in the first place.

The domestic worker's employer told The Times she had phoned the laboratory because she was concerned about her employee and had wanted to know how I could help her because she is always sick. She looks after me and I have to look after her.

(Sapa, October 2011) 

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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