India’s Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, came into force on September 10, 2018, the health ministry announced.
The new Act seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS along with protecting the human rights of affected people and criminalises discrimination against patients suffering AIDS. India makes discrimination against HIV/AIDS a punishable offence.
# The Act empowers a person living with HIV to report discrimination meted out against them in fields of employment, health care services, educational services, public facilities, property rights, holding public office, and insurance.
# The Act penalises “propagation of hatred” against the protected person where a violator could be punished with a minimum jail term of three months to a maximum of two years and can be fined up to one lakh rupees.
# It prohibits isolation of segregation of an HIV-positive person. Every HIV-positive person has the right to reside in a shared household and use facilities in a non-discriminatory manner.
# The Act reads: “No person shall, by words, either spoken or written, publish, propagate, advocate or communicate by signs or by visible representation or otherwise the feelings of hatred against any protected persons or group of protected person.”
# Under the law, no HIV-affected person can be subject to medical treatment, medical interventions or research without informed consent. Further, no HIV positive woman, who is pregnant, can be subjected to sterilisation or abortion without her consent.
# No person is compelled to disclose his HIV status except by an order of the court. A breach of violation attracts a jail sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
# Every establishment is obligated to keep HIV-related information protected. Every HIV-positive person is compelled to take reasonable precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV to other persons.
# The Act makes Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) a legal right for all HIV/AIDS patients. It has also adopted “test and treat” policy which means any person testing positive will be entitled to free treatment by the state and central government. Earlier, this was restricted by a CD4 count rate.
# It also provides for confidentiality of HIV-related information and makes it necessary to get informed consent for undertaking HIV tests, medical treatment and research.
# The law makes it mandatory for state governments to appoint an Ombudsman to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the provision of health care services.
# The new legislation has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people. Every HIV infected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.