Soldier’s claim of negligent HIV test backfires in Pretoria High Court

2015-02-09 00:00

A SOLDIER who alleged medical staff from the defence force wrongly diagnosed him with the human immunodeficiency virus lost his claim for damages when the court found he is indeed HIV-positive.

The major, who is based in Makhado, had claimed just over R900 000 from the minister of Defence, but the high court in Pretoria rejected his claim with costs.

He was a captain in the army in the ­Western Cape when he was diagnosed as HIV positive during August 2004 at 2 ­Military Hospital in Cape Town.

The soldier said in his claim that he was emotionally devastated and he left the army in 2006 with a voluntary severance package.

In 2008, a quick blood test showed a ­negative reading for the virus and the soldier said he would not have left the army if he was HIV negative and that he had to be ­re-appointed.

This was done and he has since been ­promoted to major.

He then claimed damages from the Ministry of Defence arguing he should get his full benefits hackdated to March 31, 2006.

The soldier argued the hospital staff who tested him in 2004 were negligent.

Acting judge André van Niekerk said the army’s case emerged during cross examination. The HIV tests used in 2004 and 2005 showed beyond doubt the claimant was HIV positive and there was no confusion of identities.

There was no other soldier who shared any of the claimant's details and the two badge numbers that were questioned both belonged to the ­claimant.

The quick tests which the claimant had done in 2008 did not test his CD4 count or viral load.

Van Niekerk found the army’s medical staff had not been negligent, but the quick test the soldier based his claim on could not deliver a definite or even confirming diagnosis.

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