Civil society groups hail cabinet decision on HIV, AIDS Bill

New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) Civil society groups from across the country, including people living with HIV, expressed happiness on Wednesday over the cabinet approving amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.

The cabinet approved amendments to the bill in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have been demanding passage of this bill for the last 10 years. I hope that now there is no delay and the bill is passed in the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament,” Manoj Pardesi from National Coalition of People Living with HIV, said.

The bill protects people living with HIV and their family members from stigma and discrimination they face in their day to day life. It also provides for informed consent for HIV testing and treatment, and right to confidentiality of one’s HIV status.

HIV positive people have been demanding that the bill should provide free and complete treatment as a matter of right, as opposed to the bill tabled in 2014, which stated that state should provide HIV treatment “as far as possible”.

People living with HIV have been demanding that the phrase “as far as possible” be deleted.

“Free and complete treatment is the core of the bill for us. We hope that the bill which is cleared by the cabinet is providing it,” said Paul Lhungdim of Delhi Network of Positive People.

“Many other countries like Vietnam and Kenya have passed their HIV laws years ago. It’s time that India doesn’t delay this anymore,” said Anand Grover, Project Director of Lawyers Collective.

The amended bill mandates that “no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order”.

According to official data, there are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.



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