The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 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.
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.
‘There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India, according to official data.’
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.