The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill that ensures equal rights to education and jobs for people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
“Anyone in India having HIV or AIDS, the Government of India will take care of the treatment,” Union Health Minister JP Nadda said in the Upper House as the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, was passed by voice vote. Earlier, only patients with a CD4 count of more than 500 were provided free treatment.
India has the third-largest HIV-affected population in the world. Through the Bill, the central and state governments will have to provide anti-retroviral therapy to the HIV/AIDS patients. It also prohibits authorities of various institutions from forcing people to take HIV tests.
The legislation also stresses that no one will be compelled to disclose their HIV status without their consent or a court order. The Bill also makes it mandatory for organisations that work with HIV-positive individuals to adopt data-protection measures.
However, during a debate in Rajya Sabha, members suggested amending Section 14 (1) of the Bill, which states the authorities will provide these measures “as far as possible”. Nadda said nobody will be denied treatment and that the government is “going with an aggressive policy”.