New Bill To Safeguard Dignity and Rights of HIV, AIDS Affected

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014. - Sakshi Post

New Delhi: The Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, which was drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with and affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Several civil society groups across the country welcomed the latest move by the Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The provisions of the bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen existing programmes by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.

The proposed law aims to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against affected persons, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regards to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.

The bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.

It lists various grounds such as employment, educational establishments, health care services, residing or renting property among others, on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.

The proposed law also provides for appointment of an ombudsman by state governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the law and penal actions in case of non-compliance.

The bill mandates that "no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order."

According to official data, there are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.

Civil Society Groups Welcome Cabinet Decision on HIV, AIDS Bill

Civil society groups from across the country, including people living with HIV, expressed happiness over the Cabinet approving amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.

Manoj Pardesi from National Coalition of People Living with HIV, said: "We have been demanding passage of this bill for the last 10 years. I hope that now there is no delay and the bill is passed in the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament."

The bill protects people living with HIV and their family members from stigma and discrimination they face in their day to day life. It also provides for informed consent for HIV testing and treatment, and right to confidentiality of one's HIV status.

HIV positive people have been demanding that the bill should provide free and complete treatment as a matter of right, as opposed to the bill tabled in 2014, which stated that state should provide HIV treatment "as far as possible.”

People living with HIV have been demanding that the phrase "as far as possible" be deleted.

"Free and complete treatment is the core of the bill for us. We hope that the bill which is cleared by the cabinet is providing it," said Paul Lhungdim of Delhi Network of Positive People.

"Many other countries like Vietnam and Kenya have passed their HIV laws years ago. It's time that India doesn't delay this anymore," said Anand Grover, Project Director of Lawyers Collective.

The amended bill mandates that "no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order."

According to official data, there are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.

Source: IANS


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