Activists demand its early passage to check discrimination against affected people in education, healthcare, employment, travel and insurance
A much-awaited Bill, meant to protect people living with HIV/AIDS from all types of discrimination, was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
The Bill, drafted in 2006, was introduced by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill or the HIV/AIDS Bill, 2014, is a landmark legislation, say activists.
If the Bill gets the nod of Parliament and is brought into force, it will provide protection to HIV/AIDS-affected people against discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, travel and insurance. The Bill ensures protection in both public and private sectors.
Provisions under proposed law
The Bill proposes imprisonment and fine for those spreading hatred and discrimination against HIV patients. It recommends monetary fine up to Rs 10,000 and also two years of imprisonment for those found guilty of spreading hatred against people affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Bill also says anti-retroviral therapy (ART) will be provided to all patients by the government as long as possible.
Activists welcomed the introduction of the Bill. Vikas Ahuja from Delhi Network of Positive people urged that the Bill should be enacted as soon as possible to give relief to hundreds of thousands of patients across the country.
Though India has achieved many milestones in curbing HIV infection, a lot remains to be done. The country has shown an overall reduction of 57 percent in the annual new HIV infections (among adult population); new infections have declined from 274,000 in 2000 to 116,000 in 2011. Adult HIV prevalence has decreased from 0.41 per cent in 2001 to 0.27 per cent in 2011. Besides, the estimated number of people living with HIV has decreased from 2.41 million in 2000 to 2.09 million in 2011.
Meanwhile, a new date has been set for the launch of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) of the Department of AIDS Control (DAC). Azad will launch it on February 12, to give further impetus to the country’s AIDS control programme.
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