Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe activist - ARVs for prisoners

2012-09-10 17:01

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Harare - An HIV-positive Zimbabwean man who was denied medication while detained on treason charges last year, has launched a legal battle for prisoners to be allowed access to ARVs, his lawyer said on Monday.

In a landmark case, Douglas Muzanenhamo, who was infected 18 years ago, wants an end to the ill-treatment of prisoners who are sometimes denied access to medical facilities of their choice and medicine from family while in custody.

Muzanenhamo was refused access to the life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in 2011 after his arrest along with 44 other rights activists on allegations of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

The activists had been attending a meeting to talk about lessons from the so-called Arab Spring and were accused of scheming to overthrow Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980.

"What we are asking them is that they should take direct and immediate measures to protect people with HIV or AIDS in prisons or when they are arrested," Tawanda Zhuwarara, Muzanenhamo's lawyer told AFP.

Zhuwarara said the case is the first of its kind trying to seek dignity in the treatment of people who are HIV-positive in Zimbabwean prisons.

In his affidavit to the Supreme Court, Muzanenhamo said he was kept in a "filthy cell" and was denied permission to take his medication.

"The cruelty is worsened by the fact that the cells were filthy and a clear health hazard," he wrote in the affidavit.

"The conditions I was placed in placed my life in real mortal danger. I cannot fend off infection in the same way a healthy human being can. My immune system is compromised."

Muzanenhamo who was later released from prison without charge said his CD4 count plummeted from 800 to 579 following the treatment denial in prison.

Six of his fellow activists were however fined $500 each and ordered to perform community service for having discussed the Arab Spring uprisings at the talk.

- AFP

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  hiv aids  |  southern africa
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