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Around 200 HIV-positive people staged a protest in the capital Monday demanding that a bill to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament.

At present the bill is with the health ministry.Holding a banner and protesting outside the health ministry Monday, Sahil from the Om Prakash Network of Positive People said: “The bill is very important as it puts an obligation on the state to provide complete treatment, diagnostics and nutritional supplements to all HIV positive people.”

In August 2007, the HIV/AIDS bill prepared by the health ministry was sent to the law ministry and in March 2010, the law ministry cleared the bill. Since then, the bill is pending with the health ministry.“We are not sure why the health ministry has become so indifferent towards passing of this bill ever since the law ministry cleared it,” an organiser of the protest told.

The protest which began at mid-day saw around seven organisations working on the issue of HIV/AIDS come together. Protestors, holding placards and banners, raised slogans calling upon the health minister to hold talks on the issue.

“The health ministry has turned completely deaf towards our demand, but today at least we expect the minister to meet and talk to us, although we still doubt that we will actually get an appointment with him,” said Pradeep Dutta, coordinator of the Nayi Umang Foundation.

Even as the protest gained momentum, there was a conference on HIV/AIDS by the National Forum of Parliamentarians in the capital which was participated by members of the health ministry, UNAIDS and the National AIDS Control Organisation NACO).

For the last five years, groups working in the field of HIV including the HIV positive people have been demanding early passage of the bill. Many such protests have taken place earlier, the organisers said.

“We will continue our protest as long as the minister doesn’t talk to us and give in to our demands,” Sahil said.

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