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Firm ordered to pay couple Sh1.5m for airing their status

Health & Science

 

A couple whose life story was publicised during the World Aids Day celebrations in 2012 will be paid over Sh1.5 million.

Africa Medical Research Foundation (Amref) was ordered to pay the couple Sh1.5 million plus 12 per cent interest as it breached their right to privacy.

“The claimants consent to the publication should have been sought before the publication and if the claimants were unwilling to give their consent as aforesaid, then other peer counselors would have been approached to give their consent,” the HIV and Aids Tribunal (HAT) ruled.

Amref had employed the couple as counsellors. In November 2012, they were asked to share their story but were not told whether it was to feature anywhere.

On December 1, 2012 during the World Aids Day celebrations, they were featured in the firm’s bronchures. They said the publicity had caused them emotional distress and was a stigma to have their confidentiality breached.

In reply, the foundation argued publicising the couples’ HIV status was done with their consent.

According to the reply, the status of the two was not confidential as the they openly demonstrated that there was no stigma associated with disclosing their status or danger of ill health if a person living with the virus took proper care of themselves.

The tribunal heard that the couple was a source of encouragement for others living positively.

But it (tribunal) found that the right to privacy ought to have been balanced with that of eradicating HIV stigma in the society.

“All that the respondent needed to do to avoid the violation was simply to seek the couple’s consent,” it ruled.

“The pursuit of a socially beneficial interest did not per se justify violation of the rights of persons living with or affected by HIV and Aids,” it ruled.

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