HIV is a very controversial and taboo topic in India, like every other important and necessary topic is. But no one can deny that this problem exists in our country but very few people are ready to talk about it.
A large majority is still unaware of what HIV is, why one should be careful with it, and what can happen if you do contract it at some point of time in your life.
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is, simply put a sexually transmitted virus that attacks your immune system or more specifically a type of white blood cell called the T-helper cell. This means that if left untreated, a person over time will gradually become vulnerable to even the most common of infections or diseases.
HIV is a lifelong disease that people must live with, however, more than the disease itself it is the public stigma and prejudice attached to this particular disease that can make it difficult for a person to live peacefully.
With people having gross misconceptions of what exactly is HIV, thinking it is contagious like a common cold and more, an HIV positive person must suffer through a lot of discrimination by the society.
But what about the legal side, what rights does a person with HIV has?
India Makes Landmark Decision
In April of 2017, the govt. of India gave its approval for an important bill that talked about ensuring that people suffering from HIV and AIDS are given equal rights in educational institutions, jobs and treatment centers.
The bill called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017 was passed unanimously in Lok Sakha and before that Rajya Sabha too had passed it without much hassle. Although the Bill still awaits Presidential assent.
Some of the rights that the bill provides are:
- In the case of property rights, the legislation has even included people below of the age of 18 years and stated that they have the right to reside and take part in the facilities of a shared household.
- The Bill also forbids a person from posting information or promoting negative feelings towards HIV positive people and their family members.
- Health Minister JP Nadda also added that the Bill will ensure privacy in that an Aadhar Card will not be needed in order to get free medicines for HIV positive patients.
Apart from that, here are certain rights that an HIV positive person must know when living in India:
1. A company or employer, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2010, cannot be asked to take any kind of testing for AIDS for employment or be denied or removed from a job except wherein a qualified and independent healthcare provider has explicitly stated that the affected person can risk transmission.
2. The Bill also proposes that a person cannot be forced to take an HIV test without their consent. The informed consent of a person before taking such a test is mandatory after proper counseling and imparting of knowledge about the test.
3. An HIV patient also cannot be forced to get medical treatment without their consent.
4. HIV patients in India also have control over their privacy and are not bound to reveal their HIV status unless as ordered by the Court of the law.
5. Right to file a petition in case a person with HIV/AIDS is denied treatment or any other facility that a common person would be entitled to. This even includes discrimination in any field based on a person’s HIV/AIDS status.
There is one area that is still missing from here which would be the right to adopt a child, and while there is no law as of yet that does not allow HIV positive people to adopt, but there is also nothing that prevents the social stigma that comes with this disease.
Many NGOs, orphanages and adoption agencies see one being HIV positive as a red flag and they do have the authority to reject the couple or individual based on that.
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