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Soon, law to protect HIV+ patients from bias

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Soon, law to protect HIV+ patients from bias

24 Mar 2008, 0016 hrs IST

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Denying patients suffering from HIV their right to

work and any discrimination in their treatment could soon lead to

jail terms.

The health ministry plans to table in the long-awaited AIDS anti-

discrimination bill in the coming monsoon session of Parliament. The

Bill seeks to prohibit any social or financial discrimination against

those affected by the virus.

Health minister A Ramadoss said in Mumbai on Saturday, " We will move

the Bill for an Act to deter discrimination against HIV patients in

workplaces, educational institutions and treatment centres. It is

worrisome when doctors turn away HIV patients or corporates shun

people because they are HIV positive. Another worrying factor is

schools refusing admission to HIV positive children. "

The Bill - originally prepared by activists, lawyers and experts at

the National AIDS Control Organisation - has been pending with the

law ministry for the past few months.

" Though the health ministry has accepted it, the law ministry has

raised some concerns, " said Anand Grover, director of NGO Lawyers


India has an estimated 2.7 million HIV patients as per a 2007 study

by Naco.

The Bill, in its current form, has underlined provisions like right

to equality, right to autonomy, right to privacy and health, right to

safe working environment and right to information for all HIV

positive people.

Ramadoss, who was speaking at the HIV Congress 2008 on Saturday, said

the National AIDS Control Programme is in the process of refining its

data to determine the number of HIV patients per district in order to

provide them better care.

Ramadoss also criticized doctors for the " irrational " use of powerful

Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) for short periods which reduced the

reaction of patients to the drugs and raised the cost of

treatment. " At present, it costs the government Rs 5,000 a year to

provide HIV patients with treatment with the first line drugs but the

second line drugs cost close to Rs 1 lakh per month, " he said.

The government has set up 147 treatment centres and is expected to

treat three lakh patients free of cost in the next three years, he




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