NEW DELHI A bill to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS by providing treatment, prohibiting discrimination against persons afflicted with it, placing obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by Union health minister J P Nadda and passed by a voice vote. The bill was initially introduced by the UPA government in 2014.
Speaking on the bill, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh raised the matter of making changes or removing clause 14 of the bill which says that “as far as possible” for providing treatment to people afflicted with HIV/AIDS by the Centre and the State.
Several other members raised the matter including DMK’s Tiruchi Siva that the clause be removed otherwise people afflicted with syndrome can be devoid of treatment by hospitals.
Addressing concerns of the members, Nadda said that it will be taken care while framing the rules that all HIV/AIDS patients get treatment and none is denied.
“Anyone living with HIV/AIDS in India will get treatment and Centre will ensure that people afflicted with it get treated,” Nadda assured the house.
BJP leader Prabhakar Kore raised the matter of stigma attached to it and people afflicted with HIV/AIDS are not allowed to stay in houses, are denied admission in hostels, schools and jobs.
CPI (M) member K Somaprasad stressed on the need to mandatory provide sex education in schools and it should become part of syllabus so that students are aware of it.
The Act says 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.
It also prohibits discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with it on grounds like denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, residing or renting property, standing for public or private office, and provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies).
The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.
Some members asked the government to come up with a uniform guideline for setting up of an ombudsman, as per bill, that shall be appointed by each state government to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the provision of health care services.