Cabinet approves amendments to HIV/AIDS Bill, 2014

The bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV
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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday has given its approval to introduce amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.  The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The bill makes antiretroviral commonly known as ART treatment a legal right of HIV/AIDS patients.

According to a report in Business Standards, the bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.

The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints. The Bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.

As per the approved bill, various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them 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 bill has also prohibited the requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education.

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.

Any individual publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them has also been prohibited by the bill. The Bill also provides for Guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age to be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.

The meeting was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, EAM Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and others.