Advocacy Group Calls on Indian Parliament To Consider HIV/AIDS-Related Legislation
The Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS last week called on the country's Parliament to consider a bill during its upcoming budget session that aims to protect the rights of people living with the virus, The Hindu reports. The network plans to deliver a letter with 20,000 signatures in support of the bill, which also addresses HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, to the Prime Minister's office on Monday (Dhar, The Hindu, 2/16).
The bill was drafted by the HIV/AIDS unit at the Lawyers Collective in 2006 following research and discussions with stakeholders nationwide. Since then, the bill has been under consideration by the Ministry of Law and Justice (Newstrack India, 2/18). According to IANS/Thaindian News, the bill in its current form includes measures such as the right to equality, autonomy, privacy, health, safe working environments and information.
Anand Grover, director of the HIV/AIDS unit at the collective, said the bill was prepared in collaboration with advocates, lawyers, the National AIDS Control Organisation and other experts. "Though the health ministry has accepted" the bill, the "law ministry has raised some concerns," Grover said, adding, "We are ready to sit with the law ministry for 12 hours a day for clearing any doubt and thus helping formulate the bill in a proper format" (IANS/Thaindian News, 2/16).
"Discrimination on the basis of HIV status is in direct contrast to the public health strategy for protecting and promoting the rights of those infected and affected by HIV," UNAIDS country coordinator Denis Broun said (The Hindu, 2/16). Naresh Yadav of the network said that once the bill becomes law, "tens of thousands of people will get justice. We don't have conducive" work environments and there is "a lot of stigma attached in our society" (IANS/Thaindian News, 2/16).