The government has notified a law to ensure equal rights in education and jobs for HIV-AIDS patients, nearly a year-and-a-half after the Parliament passed it. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, came into force after the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified it on Monday.
Both Houses of Parliament had passed the law during the Budget Session of 2017, and it had received presidential assent on April 20, 2017. Last month, the Delhi High Court had asked the Centre why it had not yet notified the law. “You make a law and are not notifying it. Why?” the court had asked the ministry. An Act becomes law when it is notified or published in the Gazette of India.
The law prohibits discrimination against affected persons in accessing healthcare, getting jobs, renting accommodation, and in admission to educational institutions. It also prohibits conducting HIV tests, medical treatment or research on someone without their informed consent. Citizens will not be forced to disclose their HIV status to get a job or services, unless required by a court.
The law also makes it mandatory for organisations that work with HIV-positive individuals to adopt data-protection measures. It requires central and state governments to provide anti-retroviral therapy to HIV/AIDS patients.
India has the third-largest HIV-affected population in the world.