The long pending HIV/AIDS Bill has been introduced in Rajya Sabha, though the term of the Parliament ends without passing it. It is expected to go to the parliamentary standing committee on Health and Family Welfare for their recommendations and they will deliberate and suggest modifications. This bill was first submitted to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2006, and has ever since shuttled between the Health Ministry and Law and Justice Ministry with little progress.
The bill was drafted after nation-wide consultations with different stakeholders including PLHIVs, communities at risk healthcare workers, organisations, women’s groups, trade unions, lawyers, and State AIDS Control Societies so as to ensure that the draft bill which was finalized by NACO in 2006 was comprehensive in nature and took care of the concerns of different segments of society. It seeks to stop the discrimination against the people living with HIV virus. Some of the key provisions in the HIV Bill are prohibition of discrimination in employment, education, healthcare, travel, and insurance in both the public and private sectors; and taking non-coerced, written informed consent for HIV testing, treatment and research. The Bill recognises an HIV patient’s right to privacy and confidentiality about his or her HIV status and access to free treatment by the state.
According to this article, at present, India is estimated to have 2.39 million people living with HIV/AIDS, the third highest number after South Africa and Nigeria and the epidemic is more prevalent in high risk groups.Looking at these figures, one can clearly understand the urgency for this bill. It will have many benefits for high risk groups to access services such as treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, information about safe sex practices and contraceptive tools as well as clean needles and syringes to prevent transmission of HIV.