The Parliament of India has passed a historic bill that guarantees equal rights for citizens with HIV and AIDS. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill of 2017 was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha. The bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on 21 March.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill
The legislation guarantees that Indians suffering from HIV/AIDS are given equal access to medical treatment, employment, housing, religious burial grounds, and education. Failure to comply with the bill will be punishable by law. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
Under the new law, central and state governments are obliged to provide for anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and management of opportunistic infections (infections that take advantage of weakness in the immune system and occur frequently). The Bill now makes anti-retroviral treatment a legal right for all HIV/AIDS patients.
It also provides for confidentiality of HIV-related information and makes it necessary to get informed consent for undertaking HIV tests, medical treatment and research. The new legislation has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people. Every HIV infected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
The legislation also seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS and and creates mechanisms for redressing the complaints of persons infected with HIV and AIDS.
Did You Know?
- The total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at 21.17 lakhs.
- Around 86000 new HIV infections were reported in 2015, showing 66% decline in new infections from 2000.
- In 2015 around 68000 people died of AIDS related causes nationally.
- World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988.
- It is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.
- 2016 Theme – Hands up for #HIVprevention.
- HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding
- AIDS was first recognized by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981.
- Currently, there is no licensed vaccine for HIV or AIDS. The most effective vaccine trial to date, RV 144, was published in 2009 and found a partial reduction in the risk of transmission of roughly 30%, stimulating some hope in the research community of developing a truly effective vaccine.
- There is currently no cure or effective HIV vaccine. Treatment consists of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) which slows progression of the disease.