The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the HIV AIDs Act 2017 will be implemented from September 10, 2018, onwards. The act will work towards safeguarding the human rights of the people afflicted by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus by penalising those who indulge in discriminatory behaviour against them. Although the bill has recently come into force, it was first passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 22, 2017, and then by the Lok Sabha on April 12. Finally, the bill received the President’s assent on April 20.
From its first detection in 1986 among female sex workers in Chennai, HIV infection in India increased rapidly in the years that followed. While the numbers peaked in 1998, India has seen a decline in the number of cases by 60 percent. That being said, sufferers living with HIV or AIDS have to face discrimination on a daily basis in almost every area of their lives. The lack of awareness bolstered by sexual shaming only makes things worse. The act will work towards decimating this stigma and protect the dignity of the people living with this condition The Act addresses HIV-related discrimination that people living with the condition through establishing formal mechanisms for addressing complaints regarding discrimination. Here are some things we need to know about the Act.
Protection Against Unlawful Termination From Work
The protected person cannot be denied employment or terminated from their jobs due to their HIV status unless a competent healthcare provider says that the person poses a risk of transmitting HIV or is unfit to perform duties.
The employer can terminate the protected person is unable to provide reasonable accommodation due to financial hardships. Does homosexuality cause HIV AIDS?
Protection Against Spreading Information Without Consent
No one can spread hatred against the protected person or group of protected people through written or spoken words or broadcasting any information against them.
Protection Against Conducting HIV AIDS Test Without Consent
Unless there is informed consent of the protected person, no HIV test, medical treatment, intervention or research can be conducted. To take the informed consent of the person for the HIV test, there will be a pre-test and post-test counselling to the person being tested.
No protected person should be compelled to disclose his or her HIV status, except unless ordered by the court or with informed consent obtained as per the manner specified in section 5 of the Act.
Only a physician or a counsellor can disclose the person’s HIV-positive status to his or her partner. A healthcare provider can disclose the status only if there is a threat of the person passing on the infection to another.
Right To Live In A Shared Household
The protected person should have the right to live in a shared household. He or she cannot be excluded from the shared household in any part of it. The person has the right to use and enjoy the facilities of the household without discrimination.
Right To Play Guardian
A person under the age of 18 but not below 12 years of age and who has enough maturity to manage the family afflicted with HIV/AIDS can act as guardian to his siblings below the age of 18 for admission to educational institutions; care and protection; treatment; using bank accounts; managing property; or any other duty.
Appointment of Ombudsman To Look Into Complaints
An ombudsman will be appointed in each state government to look into complaints, resulting from the violation of the HIV AIDS Act of 2017. The ombudsman report to the government after every six months and brief them about the complaints made and the action is taken.
Right To Availing Treatment
The central government and every state government will take necessary measures to expedite the prevention of HIV or AIDS by providing the diagnostic facilities related to the condition, including antiretroviral therapy and opportunistic infection management of people living with HIV AIDS.
The Act will help individuals living with HIV AIDS to live a life of dignity, without the fear of discrimination on various grounds such as employment, education, healthcare, residence, standing for public or private office or provision of insurance. The Act will ensure that the protected individual is not stopped from availing goods, accommodation, service, benefit, facility, privilege or opportunity. They will have the right to use public restaurants, hotels, places of public entertainment, wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads, burial grounds, funeral ceremonies, shops, etc.