Safeguarding the rights of people living with and affected by HIV, the Union Health Ministry has issued a notification to bring in force from Monday the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017.
“Provisions of the Act address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen existing programme by bringing in legal accountability, and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances,” noted a release issued by the Ministry.
Angela Chaudhuri of Swasti Health Catalyst, a not-for-profit organisation working for marginalised sections of society including LGBTQ and women in sex work, said: “Implementation of the HIV/ AIDS [Prevention and Control] Act is certainly a positive and a much-awaited development. However, the provisions only protect infected individuals from prejudiced behaviour and attitudes. Communities that are vulnerable to infection, individuals who are yet to be tested and kin of those infected are still subjected to stigma and biased perspectives. The need is to adopt a holistic approach to successfully combat discrimination against the infected and the vulnerable, and create safe spaces for them.”
The Ministry said the Act seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, and prohibits discrimination against affected persons. The Act lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with the condition is prohibited.
These include the 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 prerequisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.