Hundreds of People Living with HIV from across the country today protested outside the residence of the Union Health Minister demanding for an amendment in the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill which is presently listed in Rajya Sabha for passing in the present budget session of Parliament. People Living with HIV have been demanding free and complete treatment as a right under this Bill. J.P. Nadda met the community representatives, who raised their concerns and discussed the possibilities.
In the present form, the Bill does not ensure free and complete treatment to HIV positive people. It only states that Central Government and State Government shall take measures to as far as possible provide treatment to HIV positive people.
Reacting to it, Loon Gangte from International Treatment Preparedness Coalition -South Asia and Hari Shankar Singh from the Delhi Network of Positive People said, “ Ever since the Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha in February 2014, we have been demanding for the deletion of the term ‘as far as possible’ from the chapter of treatment. The present draft is totally non- acceptable to us. If government does not delete ‘as far as possible’ from the Bill, then we don’t want this Bill, as it will not do any good to People Living with HIV, if the Bill doesn’t ensure Treatment.”
The term ‘as far as possible’ in the chapter of treatment has a contentious issue in the Bill ever since it was tabled in Parliament. HIV positive people have time and again raised the issue. Hundreds of networks of People Living with HIV sent written submissions and some also made oral submissions in front of the Standing Committee on Health demanding the deletion of the term ‘as far as possible’ from the chapter of treatment but the committee didn’t accept their demand. Now the People Living with HIV feel that this Bill which does not ensure free treatment to us is of no use for them.
Speaking on the issue, Kaushalya from Positive Women’s Network said, “In the past few years, there have been regular stock outs of important HIV medicines and testing kits across the country putting the lives of HIV positive people at risk. Now Government’s constant refusal to delete the phrase ‘as far as possible’ from the chapter of treatment shows their lack of commitment towards the lives of HIV positive people. This Bill without free and complete treatment is merely a piece of paper for us and we completely reject it.”
The Bill is listed for passing in Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament which resumes on 9th March 2017.
For details, please contact:
Paul Lhungdim (Delhi Network of Positive People)- 9810769267
Pradeep Dutta (NaiUmang Positive Welfare Society)- 8800664874