Guaranteeing life-saving drugs to patients with HIV/AIDS in Venezuela

Country: Venezuela
Body: Supreme Courts
Case: Glenda and Others versus Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales (IVSS), López
Case number: Expediente 00-1343. Judgement Sentencia No. ° 487. [ENG]
Year of judgement: 1997
PDF of decision

The case was brought before the Supreme Court of Venezuela by a group of persons living with HIV, requesting the Instituto Venezolano de Seguros Sociales (Venezuelan Institute for Social Security, IVSS) to ensure the supply of drugs needed to treat diseases arising from AIDS and cover the expenses of the medical tests. The petitioners filed an amparo action (constitutional writ of protection), which is an extraordinary judicial remedy common in Latin America, specifically for the protection of constitutional rights against harm or threats inflicted by authorities or individuals. The Court ruled in favour of the petitioners and ordered IVSS to regularly supply the required drugs. The decision extended its benefits to cover all persons in the same situation.

The Court found that not providing essential drugs violated the right to health, right to life, the benefits of scientific and technological progress, and social security as laid down in the Constitution of Venezuela. The effect of the decision was extended to all persons in a similar situation. Thus, the IVSS was required to regularly and consistently supply drugs to all persons living with HIV/AIDS who are legally qualified for social security.
This case reiterates the importance of ensuring the inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of society when social security is provided. Persons living with HIV/AIDS face societal stigmatization and as such, it is important that equality and non-discrimination are guaranteed when they seek social security benefits.

Social Protection and Human Rights