Activists seek HIV/AIDS bill in winter session

AIDSCivil society activists on Friday demanded that the HIV/AIDS bill be tabled during the winter session of parliament, set to be held Dec 5 to 20.

The bill aims to protect the rights of people infected and affected by HIV and was finalised by the union health ministry in 2006.

It also provides for free and complete HIV-related treatment for all who need it.

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'HIV+ people are often denied employment and refused treatment. This bill is very important as it provides for protection of HIV-positive people from stigma and discrimination in both the public and private sectors,' Hari Shankar of the Delhi Network of Positive People said at a press conference here.

'The delay in bringing the bill to parliament is totally unacceptable. This government has not shown the political will to take the bill forward,' Anand Grover of Lawyers' Collective said.

'The bill should have been tabled long back. Now we demand that the government table this bill in the Rajya Sabha in the coming winter session,' he said.

Anjali Gopalan of NAZ Foundation said: 'The government has spent more than half a decade deliberating over the bill. It is imperative that it moves fast now.'

It is estimated that India had approximately 1,20,000 new HIV infections in 2009.

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects the human immune system. AIDS is the final stage of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. If an HIV positive person is left untreated, his/her condition deteriorates into full-blown AIDS where the immune system stops working. Thus the immune system is unable to protect the person from diseases or infections. The virus can be transmitted from an HIV positive person through the exchange of body fluids. This can happen through sexual contact, blood transfusion, needles or from a mother to child during pregnancy. Though there is no cure yet, antiretroviral treatment has proven to be very effective.

With inputs from IANS

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