Taking up the cause of HIV/AIDS victims, members of the Lok Sabha on Tuesday pledged to re-dedicate themselves to creating awareness of the disease and taking concrete steps to check and eventually eradicate it.

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Speaker Meira Kumar said eradication of the dreaded disease was one of the toughest challenges for mankind.

It had spread its tentacles across the globe and was feared to cause as many as 40 million deaths this millennium, she said.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Ramchandra Dome demanded the immediate tabling of the long-pending HIV/AIDS Bill to provide legal aid to victims and check discrimination against them.

It was drafted in 2006 and sent to the Law Ministry the following year.

Noting that jobs and education were being denied to AIDS patients due to a social stigma, he said the government could not afford to delay bringing in the Bill as it not only provided for treatment but also maintained the patients’ confidentiality and protected their legal rights.

Jagdambika Pal of the Congress said thousands of people were affected in India, and demanded a discussion to find means of checking the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Women’s fear

Now women thought twice before sending their husbands to bigger cities for work for fear they might return with the deadly virus, he said.

Over 25,000 people were affected in several districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Pal said. “To check the spread of HIV/AIDS, new medicines have to be developed and a lot of research and development is required.”

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