Discriminating against HIV positive persons could invite 2-yr jail
The new law also has also incorporated a penalty of upto Rs 1 lakh on violation of norms. There are about 21 lakh HIV positive individuals in India.
According a health ministry official, the stringent clauses have been incorporated into the bill after cases of discrimination of HIV positive persons became order of the day. “The rationale behind putting in tough norms in the bill is to protect the interest of HIV positive people as they also have the right to live a respectable life. Why should HIV positive persons be discriminated against in offices, public places or government recruitments, when the disease is non-communicable,” the official said.
Explaining the implications of the new clauses in the Bill, the official said, “The bill will prohibit HIV testing as a requirement for obtaining employment or accessing health care. Also, no person should be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by court order.”
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the amendments to make HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 more stringent. The bill provides legal accountability and a formal mechanism to probe complaints of discrimination against patients and also makes anti-retroviral treatment a legal right of patients.
The amendments list various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive patients and those living with them is prohibited. These include denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, residing or renting property, standing for public or private office, and provision of insurance.
According to the amended bill every HIV patient, below the age of 18 years, will have the legal right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household. The bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information which could compromise the rights of HIV patients.
The bill also has a provision for appointment of an ombudsman by state governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act.