ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Treat, Do Not Shame

The law addressing the needs of people afflicted with HIV/AIDS needs to be enacted urgently.

The stigma, shame, and moral judgment attached to HIV/AIDS (equating the disease to sexual promiscuity and deviance) have added to the problems associated with treating those afflicted with the disease. Therefore, it is about time that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, finally scheduled to be tabled in the ongoing winter session of Parliament, is passed. India is home to 21.17 lakh persons living with HIV (2015). Of these, 6.54% are children and 40.5% are women. With 86,309 persons having contracted HIV and an estimated 67,612 AIDS-related deaths in 2015, can this bill fill the legislative lacuna that has existed for many years now?

The process of drafting this law began in 2002 when the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) approached the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit. The draft, which was ready in 2006, specified the state’s obligation to provide free of cost access to comprehensive treatment. Unfortunately, a much diluted bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, and was duly referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. On 5 October this year, the cabinet approved some amendments to the 2014 bill and deemed it ready for passage in the Rajya Sabha.

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