Taking a positive step ahead, to curb the discrimination against HIV-positive people or those living with such people, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014 with amendments. The bill aims to bring in legal accountability and establish a formal mechanism to probe complaints against those who discriminate against such people.
1. It is obligatory, under the bill, for the central and state governments to provide for antiretroviral therapy (ART) infection management to those with HIV/AIDS and facilitate access to welfare schemes—especially for women and children.
2. It prohibits specific acts of discrimination by the state, or any other person, against HIV-positive people, or those living with such people.
3. The bill lists out various grounds on which discrimination against HIV affected people take place, such as denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, residing or renting property etc.
4. The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited, a statement issued after the Cabinet meet said.
5. The Bill requires that “no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order”.
6. Establishments keeping records of information of HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures.
7. According to the proposal, 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.
8. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
9. The Bill also states that any person between the age of 12 and 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.
10. This provision will be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment.
11. As per the government, around 21 lakh people are estimated to be living with HIV in India. The Bill would provide essential support to the National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections, helping the country end the epidemic by 2030 as per the Sustainable Development Goals.