HIV/AIDS bill in next parliament session (Lead)

New Delhi, Nov 27 ( A bill to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS

will be tabled in the next session of parliament, Oscar Fernandes, chairman of the parliamentary forum for HIV and AIDS, said here Friday.

“The consultation work on the bill has been expedited as it will be tabled in the next session of parliament. It is a serious matter and we want it be passed as soon as possible,” Fernandes told Inditop.

The HIV/AIDS bill was drafted in 2006 to protect the rights of people living with the disease and to prevent and control the spread of the infection. It followed intensive discussions with different stakeholders, including people with HIV, sex workers and drug users, and has been pending with the government for the last three years.

Fernandes said the forum is holding discussions with the ministries of health, law and social welfare to work out the modalities for the bill.

“It is unfortunate that the bill has been delayed and we are making all efforts to get it passed. The bill will ensure human rights and universal access to prevention, treatment, acre and support to the HIV affected people,” he said.

A group of 200 HIV affected children interacted with parliamentarians in the capital demanding passage of the pending HIV/AIDS Bill.

Mamata, 12, a HIV positive girl from a poor Uttar Pradesh family who could cannot afford her treatment, said: “I am HIV positive and I contracted the disease as my father was HIV positive. My family does not have money for treatment and education. I really want to study and do something for the HIV affected people when I grow up.

“I want the bill to be passed soon as it has a provision for providing free education to children living with HIV,” Mamata told the parliamentarians.

Listening to her request, Fernandes assured early passage of the bill to support her education. The bill prepared in 2006 has been pending with the law ministry from last three yeas.

“Both my parents died of AIDS two years back and I am looked after by an NGO. I think the passage of the bill will empower us to fight for our rights,” said 14-year-old Rahul, who is also HIV positive.

Children raised concerns over the dilution of the HIV/AIDS Bill by law ministry saying in the third draft almost 38 key provisions necessary to safeguard the rights of HIV positive people have been deleted.

“We want the government not to amend the original draft submitted to the government as all the provisions are important for the welfare of the people living with HIV,” said 15-year-old Maitryee.

MP T. Meinya said: “There are a lot of wrong notions about the disease and the need is to educate people. We will pass the bill as soon as it is introduced in the house.”

As per national Aids Control Organisation (NACO), India has approximately 100,000 children below 18 years of age who are infected with HIV. It is estimated that 70,000 children below the age of 15 are infected every year through parent to child transmission.