Several organisations working on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS have demanded immediate tabling of the HIV/AIDS Bill, 2009.
The Bill was drafted and finalised in 2006 by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry after country-wide consultations with stakeholders and sent to the Law Ministry. From 2007 to October 2009, the Law Ministry released four drafts, each omitting several critical provisions aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
The journey of the HIV/AIDS Bill has been extremely long, characterised by disappointing drafts, and public protests against various versions of the Bill that diluted its objectives and spirit, Daisy David of the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+), said at a press conference here.
It was disheartening to see the Bill shuttling between the two ministries for the past three years. “We need this Bill to fight discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS,” she said.
It contains special provisions to address the vulnerabilities of women and children to HIV, according to Manjula K. of Action Aid. “The Bill entitles a survivor of sexual assault, even if it occurs within marriage, to access HIV-related counselling and preventive treatment.”
Pradeep Dutta of the Nai Umang Network of Positive People said passing the law would make it easier for HIV positive people to access treatment.
The Bill also provides legal immunity to the provider and the receiver of services under targeted intervention programmes like condom promotion among sex workers and distribution of clean needles to drug users.
Sudha Jha from Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), Kolkata, said the targeted intervention programmes proved successful in controlling the spread of the epidemic.