Rajya Sabha passes HIV and AIDS bill, ensures equal rights to people

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare said it was a "historic day" as the government can now ensure better quality of life to people living with these diseases

Rajya Sabha passes HIV and AIDS bill, ensures equal rights to people
Image Source: Google

The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, moved by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda, was passed in the Upper House by a voice vote on Tuesday (March 21).

The Union cabinet had approved official amendments to the bill in May last year. Once it comes into effect, the legislation will prohibit authorities of various institutions from forcing people to undergo HIV tests for employment or education.

During the debate on the measure, many members suggested amending Section 14 (1) of the Bill, to remove the phrase “as far as possible” for providing medical treatment by the Centre and the states to those infected with HIV and AIDS.

In his reply Nadda said, “I would like to inform the House that while making the rules, we will ensure that nobody is denied treatment and we are committed to provide medical treatment to all those living with HIV or AIDS. We are going with an aggressive policy.”

Nadda added, “India will treat anyone with HIV and AIDS. Anyone in India having HIV or AIDS, the Government of India will take care of the treatment.”

He informed that there will be a provision in the rules to provide justification for denying treatment to patients.

The section says: “The measures to be taken by the Central or State Governments under Sector 13 shall include measures for providing as far as possible, anti-retroviral therapy and opportunistic management to people living with HIV or AIDS.”

With the bill passed, the minister said it was a “historic day” as the government can now ensure better quality of life to people living with these diseases.

Speaking on the members’ concern over insufficient allocation for National AIDS Control Programme, Nadda said Rs2,000 crore has been allocated for this year and there is no question of reducing funds for this central scheme.

Congress member Jairam Ramesh had said during the debate that the government has provided Rs2,000 crore for the scheme for 2017-18, which should be raised to higher levels.