A draft law which seeks to protect the interests of persons with HIV and AIDS got more teeth on Wednesday with government approving amendments to bring in legal accountability and establish a formal mechanism to probe complaints against those who discriminate against such people. The Union Cabinet approved amendments to 'The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014' drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
These include the 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 (unless based on actuarial studies). The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited, a statement issued after the Cabinet meet said.
The Bill requires that "no person shall 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 HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures.
According to the proposal, every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
The Bill also provides for guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 and 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age. This provision will be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment.