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Union Cabinet finally clears Bill prohibiting discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS

05.10.2016

The Union Cabinet has cleared the latest amendments in HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014. The object of the bill is to protect and safeguard the rights and privacy of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.

The Bill seeks to deal with HIV-related discrimination, strengthening the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establishing formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and resolving grievances. The Bill further seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard 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.

The bill is in a form of a welfare and social legislation aimed at dealing with one of the most sensitive issue pertaining to one’s personal life and liberty having vast impact on society. This act has been long due from the Government as the preventive measures had fallen short in recent years in respect of safeguarding the rights of the effected persons.

The Bill prohibits various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them have been made in past and includes the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to:

(i) employment,

(ii) educational establishments,

(iii) health care services,

(iv) residing or renting property,

(v) standing for public or private office, and

(vi) provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies).

The bill further prohibits the requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education.

The bill also envisages that every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household and further prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. The Bill also provides for Guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age to be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.

The Bill is a welcome step which shall inject fresh energy into those fighting this cause having now equipped with legal armory. It will further reduce the gap of bias being faced by persons infected and provide them with positive hope living equally with society at large. However, both the centre as well as states has to go hand in hand and need a strong will to implement the said bill.

Tags : HIV/AIDS Bill Amendment Approval

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