The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a crucial amendment bill which seeks to prohibit discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
The Cabinet took up the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention And Control) Bill which was introduced in 2014 in the Parliament.
The bill has the provision for creating an enabling environment for people living with HIV (PLHIV) so that they can get better access to antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The ART therapy comprises a combination of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs which are used to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease.
“One of the significant provisions which the bill seeks to address is to prohibit discrimination of HIV positive persons,” a senior Health Ministry official told .
The bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited which include denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, healthcare services amongst others.
The requirement for HIV testing as a prerequisite for obtaining employment or accessing healthcare or education is also prohibited.
The bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
According to the bill introduced in 2014, no HIV test, medical treatment or research will be conducted on a person without their informed consent.
Headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a Group of Ministers (GoM) met for the first time in July to discuss the bill, according to reports.
The bill was also referred to the standing committee before the NDA government assumed office.