Bill has been shuttling between health and law ministries since 2006
Civil society activists and members of the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS have demanded that the long overdue HIV/AIDS Bill should be tabled in Parliament during the winter session which starts on December 5. The Bill has provisions to protect the rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS. Though the Bill was finalised by the Union health ministry in 2006, it has been shuttling between the health ministry and the Union law ministry since then. In October this year, the law ministry cleared it and sent it back to the ministry of health.
The Bill is also important for ensuring HIV affected population has access to free treatment. Though the government provides first line anti-retrovirals for free, the second line of treatment (for people with immunity against the first line) is not easily accessible. The third line treatment is not available through the government-run programme at all, say experts. Even diagnostic facilities like viral load tests are not provided free.
Anand Grover of the advocacy group Lawyers Collective said, “The delay in bringing this Bill to Parliament is totally unacceptable. This government has not shown the political will to take it forward. The Bill should have been tabled in Parliament long back. Even the standing committee on health, in its report tabled in Rajya Sabha in April 2013, has mentioned that the delay in bringing the HIV Bill to Parliament is not justifiable. Now, we demand that the government should table this bill in Rajya Sabha in the forthcoming winter session.”
People living with and associated with HIV face stigma and discrimination in everyday life. “HIV positive people are often denied employment and refused treatment because of their HIV status. There have been repeated instances of children of HIV positive people being thrown out of schools. This Bill is very important as it provides for protection of HIV positive people from stigma and discrimination in both public and private sectors. It should be brought to Parliament without any delay,” says Hari Shankar of Delhi Network of Positive People.
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