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People living with HIV/AIDS Wednesday appealed to the government to pass a long pending draft legislation which seeks to bring relief to over 2.5 million people affected by the condition in India.

The HIV/AIDS bill has been pending with the government for the last five years.

Pradeep Datta from NGO Nayi Umang said: “The bill is very important in the light of the large scale discrimination faced by the HIV positive in our country. It’s unacceptable that the government has not brought the bill to parliament till now.”

Datta said they have been told by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that the bill has been sent to the law ministry after some changes.

“How can the government make some changes in the bill without taking into confidence the HIV/AIDS community? We had no information about this,” he said.

Anand Grover of the NGO Lawyers’ Collective said: “We are really disappointed by the constant delay on the part of the government in bringing this bill to parliament. I hope the bill is brought at the earliest.”

After being finalised by the health ministry in August 2006, the bill was submitted to the law ministry in September 2007.

The bill was drafted after nationwide consultations with various stakeholders, people living with HIV, communities at risk of HIV, healthcare workers, children’s organisations and women’s groups.

The bill provides redressal against discrimination in the private sector.

It also ensures the informed consent of the person should be taken before testing for HIV treatment or research. Although the government provides first line treatment free of cost, availability of second line is limited.

The bill makes it the responsibility of the government to provide complete treatment free of cost. It also provides for the appointment of a health ombudsman in every district.


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