State HIV workers seek Bill clarity

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People living with HIV and civil society organisations of Manipur have discussed the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014 with the aim to mobilize support for the passage of the Bill in the upcoming Parliament Session.

The discussion program was organised by World Vision India at Nirmala Hotel, MG Avenue, Imphal.

Representatives from NGOs based in Manipur, who are working in the field, MNP+, SASO, CARE Foundation, CoNE, NIRVANA Foundation, CNPW and Carmal Jyoti took part in the discussion program.

The discussion stressed the importance of the Bill to be tabled in the winter session of Rajya Sabha in view to protect the rights of HIV positive people and their family members.

The discussion highlighted that the Bill will take a progressive step in addressing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV but there is lack of clarity in providing free and complete HIV treatment.

Daisy David, Health Associate, World Vision India delivering his speech pointed out that 1,38,456 children are living with HIV/AIDS as estimated by NACO 2015. The challenges faced by HIV affected children are multifaceted and require immediate response beyond prevention and treatment.

He said every year about 21,000 children are infected through mother-to-child transmission and thousands of children are affected because their parents are HIV positive.

He further said that the HIV Bill will serve as a tool to protect children from discrimination. The bill also recognises the right of property, access to healthcare services and information which will further help those infected to lead a dignified life.

However he said the inclusion of “as far as possible” in the Bill has diluted the chapter of treatment.

People from across the country have been demanding the deletion of the term from the chapter.

Stressing the difficulties being faced by infected people, Daisy said although the government provides treatment through ART Centres, there has been regular stock out of essential medicines and testing kits in the last three years, putting the lives of infected people in danger.

It may be mentioned that the HIV/AIDS Bill 2014 was drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing program by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.

The Bill also seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard right of persons living with HIV and create mechanisms for redressing complaints.

The Bill seeks to protect the rights of children by preventing discrimination against admission or continuance of children in schools and protecting the property of children affected by HIV or AIDS.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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