Staff Reporter

It will help HIV/AIDS patients, especially women, in various issues

NAMAKKAL: The Government should ensure that there was no discrimination in providing treatment and support to persons affected by HIV/AIDS, Madras High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah said here on Sunday.

Inaugurating a Conclave of Women living with HIV/AIDS, an interaction programme organised jointly by the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) and the district administration here, the Chief Justice said HIV/AIDS should not be viewed solely as a health issue but as human rights issue because of its serious economic, social and cultural implications.

Saying that the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority would set up a "Permanent Legal Aid Clinic" at Namakkal, Justice Mr. Shah said Government had the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of HIV/AIDS affected persons. HIV/AIDS patients were entitled to get medical treatment without any delay. A person could not be regarded as medically unfit and denied employment merely on the ground that he or she was found to be HIV positive, he said.

The Chief Justice observed that almost half of HIV positive people in the world were women. Gender equality and women's empowerment were fundamental to reduce women's vulnerability to the disease. "HIV/AIDS is preventable and manageable disease but has been turned into a pandemic because of ignorance, lack of political will, neglect and discrimination," the Chief Justice said.

Detailing the objectives of the Legal Aid Clinic, Justice Mr. Shah said the clinic would help HIV/AIDS patients, especially women, in various issues. The clinic would function in Namakkal Government Hospital on every Wednesday and Saturday. Similar clinics would be set up in all districts. The Chief Justice also distributed welfare assistance to a few women living with HIV/AIDS.

High Court Judge M. Jaichandren said social and legal protection was very important for persons living with HIV/AIDS. The disease had affected about 57 lakh people in the country. Justice Ms. Prabha Sridevan, called upon women living with HIV/AIDS to face the challenges in life courageously.

TANSACS Project Director Supriya Sahu, Collector G. Sundaramurthi, Deputy Director of Health R. Sampathkumar and Superintendent of Police Deepak M. Damor also spoke.