Parliament Passes HIV and AIDS Bill

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Highlights:
  • The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Prevention and Control Bill 2017 was passed in the Parliament
  • The bill strengthens rights of patients living with HIV and cracks down on discrimination
  • It also bans discrimination of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) victims are guaranteed equal rights to medical treatment, admission to educational institutions and equal employment opportunities, as the Parliament passed the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2017 on Tuesday, poised to be a major historical milestone
Parliament Passes HIV and AIDS Bill

According to the UNAIDS Gap Report, nearly 2.1 million people are living with HIV in India. In 2015, there were 68,000 AIDS-related deaths in the country. More than 86,000 new cases of HIV had been reported. These statistics indicate that HIV and AIDS Bill is important for those who suffer from the disease and the stigma attached to it. The Bill not only seeks to prevent the spread and control of HIV, but also to criminalize discrimination against the HIV community.

Union Health Minister J.P Nadda said that the unanimous passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha is historic and the government stands committed to the free treatment of HIV patients.

"The Bill is people-centric as it strengthened the rights of people infected with HIV. It is not the case that before the coming of this Bill, those infected with HIV were not empowered. But with the passage of this Bill, they will get more powers," added Nadda.

Strengthens the Rights of Patients

The HIV and AIDS Bill strengthens the rights of those living with HIV. The Bill makes the anti-retroviral therapy a legal right for those infected with HIV. According to the Bill, "Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services." The Bill asks the State and the Central governments to facilitate access for the HIV/AIDS community to welfare schemes. In 2016, the government had spent Rs 2, 000 crores on anti-retroviral therapy drugs for HIV patients, said Nadda.

Cracks Down on Discrimination

The Bill prohibits discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities such as restaurants, hotels, shops, public entertainment venues and burial grounds.

Considering the taboo around the disease, the Bill defines discrimination as denial or discontinuation of employment, education, healthcare services, and housing. Every individual is prohibited from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV-positive people and those living with them. The Bill gives the right to minors with HIV to reside in a shared household and prohibits people from spreading hatred against them. The Bill states that no individual will have to undergo HIV test as a pre-requisite for securing a job, employment or education.

Nadda said, "Whosoever does not adhere to the provisions of the Bill will be penalized. There would also be civil and criminal proceedings against them. The action would also be taken against those who come between the implementation of the provisions of the proposed Bill."

The UNAIDS said that the landmark legislation is welcoming and it would improve access to justice for people living with HIV.

Steve Kraus, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, said, "This is a major step forward for people living with and affected by HIV in India and around the world. This legislation begins to remove barriers and empowers people to challenge violations of their human rights."

Reference:
  1. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus And Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention And Control) Bill, 2014 - (http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-human-immunodeficiency-virus-and-acquired-immune-deficiency-syndrome-prevention-and-control-bill-2014-3126/)


Source: Medindia

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