The Act safeguards rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It also addresses HIV-related discrimination, strengthen existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
- There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India.
- The prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade but percentage of PLHIV receiving Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) treatment are merely 25.82% against global percentage of 41%
- It is the first national HIV law in South Asia
Key Features of Act
- Prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS.
- It prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
- It lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
- These discrimination grounds include denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to
- educational establishments
- health care services,
- standing for public or private office,
- residing or renting property and
- provision of insurance.
- It also prohibits requirement for HIV testing as pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education.
- It mentions that every HIV infected or affected person below age of 18 years has right to reside in shared household and enjoy facilities of household.
- No person will be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order
- Establishments keeping records of information of PLHIV must adopt data protection measures.
- Obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV and create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
- Prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and PLHIV.
- It mentions that person between 12 to 18 years of age having sufficient maturity in understanding and managing affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family will be competent to act as guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age.
Importance of Act
The Act would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new spread of HIV infections and thereby achieving the target of “Ending the epidemic by 2030” to meet goal Sustainable Development Goals
What is missing in the Act?
- The Act brings a rights-based approach to AIDS treatment, making it imperative for both the central and state governments to provide treatment “as far as possible”.
- Though the Act lays down that treatment is the right of the patient, it stops short of making it a legal right — and therefore, a patient who is denied ART treatment cannot ordinarily drag any government to court.
- Provisions only protect infected individuals from prejudiced behaviour and attitudes. Communities that are vulnerable to infection, individuals who are yet to be tested and kin of those infected are still subjected to stigma and biased perspectives.
- The need is to adopt a holistic approach to successfully combat discrimination against the infected and the vulnerable, and create safe spaces for them.