Legal arguments and issues addressed the court

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breach of his human rights.Legal arguments and issues addressedThe Court addressed two important questions of human rights: (i) the interpretation of the right of access to health care services, as set out in Colombian law; (ii) the right of people living with HIV and AIDS to freedom from discrimination. In addressing these two questions in the context of the applicant’s claim, the Court began its analysis with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Colombia.With respect to the right to health, the Constitution (Article 49) declares that the State is responsible for health as a public service, guarantees everyone’s “access to services for the promotion, protection and recovery of health”, and declares that every person has the right to seek comprehensive care for his or her own health and that of his or her community. It further provides that it is the State’s duty to organize, regulate and manage the delivery of health services to residents, in accordance with the principles of efficiency, universality and social solidarity. The State’s responsibility also includes establishing policies governing health services provided by private entities and monitoring and controlling those providers. Finally, the Constitution states that the law shall establish the terms on which basic health care for all residents is free and obligatory.Furthermore, the Constitution (Article 13) declares the right to freedom from discrimi-nationon a number of grounds. It provides that the State shall promote the conditions necessary for equality to be real and effective, and shall adopt measures in favour of groups that are marginalized or experience discrimination. It also places a special obligation on the State to protect people who are “debilitated” by their economic, physical or mental condition and to redress abuse of mistreatment against such persons. (There is no reference to health status or disability in the list of grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited, such as sex, race, national origin, religion, etc., nor is there any express mention of HIV or AIDS. However, the Court’s judgement clearly is premised on an assumption that such constitutional provisions apply to protect people living with HIV/AIDS.)In its ruling, the Constitutional Court agreed with the lower court that the constitu-tional rights to access health care services and to freedom from discrimination meant that the Institute was legally required to cover Muñoz’s medical treatment.The Court noted that the right to equality is in the chapter of the Colombian Constitution dealing with “fundamental” rights, whereas the right to have access to health services appears in a separate section on “economic, social and cultural rights”. The Court explained that, because health is inherent in the concept of a dignified human existence, it is constitutionally protected, especially in the case of persons who are vulnerable as a result of their economic, physical or
UNAIDS52mental condition. Understood in this fashion, the right to health is aimed at ensuring the funda-

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