India’s HIV/AIDS Bill continues to be stalled, despite mounting pressure from public interest organizations to pass the six year pending HIV/AIDS Bill before the forthcoming August 5th Parliament session. Public interest organizations have voiced concern over the delay and have taken to the streets to demand the tabling of the bill.
Drafted by The Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit, ‘the Bill embodies principles of human rights and seeks to establish a humane and egalitarian legal regime to support India’s regime to support India’s prevention, treatment, care and support efforts vis-à-vis the epidemic’.
The Bill protects wide range of issues related to People Living with HIV (PLHIV), by addressing issues of stigma and discrimination, care and protection, treatment and ensuring their rights.
It specifically prohibits discrimination related to HIV/AIDS in both public and private spheres, requires specific and informed consent related to HIV testing, treatment and research, and upholds the right to confidentiality. Right to access comprehensive HIV related treatment prevention, care and support is included as are protection of risk reduction strategies targeted towards communities subject to criminal sanction, such as drug users and sex workers.
The HIV/AIDS Bill is a comprehensive document protecting and promoting the rights of PLHIV and those affected by HIV. It is only by protecting the vulnerable that we will begin to reverse the HIV epidemic. By upholding the right against discrimination, right to informed consent, and confidentiality and access to treatment, more people will be encouraged to come forward for testing, care and treatment. By protecting risk reduction strategies, and by disseminating important information we can help those who are marginalized to protect themselves and others against HIV.
The passing of the HIV/AIDS Bill will have wide ranging effects and will for the first time, offer legal protection for PLHIV and those affected by HIV in India. It has been thirty years since HIV was first discovered. Its high time for laws and policies to reflect and respond to these realities and uphold and protect the rights of all.
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