On Tuesday, Parliament cleared a bill that will ensure equal rights to the people affected by HIV and AIDS in terms of treatment and even admission in educational institutions and jobs.
The Bill which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 21, was cleared by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Health Minister J P Nadda called the unanimous passage of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017, as “historic”.
He also said that the government “stands committed for free treatment of HIV patients.”
Maintaining that the Bill was ‘people centric’, the minister said it strengthened the rights of the people infected with HIV.
“It is not the case that before coming of this bill, these people (infected with HIV ) were not empowered. But with the passage of this bill they will get more powers,” Nadda explained.
The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
The bill provides for civil and criminal proceedings against them against those who discriminate against people infected with HIV.
“Action would be also taken against those who come between the implementation of the provisions of the proposed bill,” Nadda said.
The legislation has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
“The bill has a provision under which action would also be taken against those who create hatred against HIV patients,” Nadda said, adding that it seeks to create an enabling environment both at workplace and in the society.
The legislation also seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS and creates mechanisms for redressing the complaints of persons infected with HIV and AIDS.
Asserting that India runs second largest Antiretroviral Theraphy (ART) programme in the world, Nadda said the rate of new HIV infections have dropped by 67 per cent, from 2.5 lakh to 85,000 and AIDS related deaths have declined to 54 per cent, which is more than the global average.
Responding to members’ concerns over raising the awareness level about HIV among the people, Nadda said the Indian outreach programme was well appreciated across the world as it seeks to spreads awareness aggressively by reaching out to those who stay even in high risk areas.
(With inputs from PTI)