Will HIV bill reach House?

Published: Saturday 15 March 2008

civil society groups have asked the union government to table the long pending hiv-aids bill at the next session of parliament. The ngo, Indian Network of People Living with hiv - aids says that the failure to pass the bill will derail efforts to check the spread of the disease and end discrimination against aids- affected people in the country.

The union law ministry had raised objections to certain provisions in the bill, delaying its introduction to the parliament. On February 18, civil society groups submitted a mass petition to the prime minister. The activists say getting the bill passed in the budget session will ensure immediate allocation of funds for efforts to support aids patients. "The bill needs to come into force immediately as people living with hiv continue to face discrimination," says Naresh Yadav, vice president of the organization. The activists pointed out cases of discrimination against hiv-aids people in Kerala and Delhi. A school in south Kerala recently refused to admit children of hiv- positive parents. The activists say the bill will enables them to move court in such circumstances.

The draft bill also includes provisions to check discriminations in the private sector as well. The bill is also against mandatory hiv tests, say, for jobs and marriage.

It also calls for appointing a permanent ombudsman to protect the rights of hiv-aids patients. This will ensure prompt justice and "reduce the cases in court," says Anand Grover, director of Lawyers Collective, an ngo which submitted the draft to the union government in August 2006.

Activists also suggest the post of the ombudsman has to be permanent so that the machinery will be more stable. The bill is mandatory under the un special session on hiv / aids in 2001 to which India is signatory.

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