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After HRLN's files PIL, health ministry issues Gazette notification on implementation of HIV & AIDS Act, 2017

Date : 12/09/2018

More than a year after Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Act received assent from President of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finally through a gazette notification announced the date for the enforcement of the Act after Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) filled a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the High Court of Delhi.

The lackadaisical position adopted by the health ministry led to HRLN filling a PIL in the Delhi Court questioning the motive of the ministry, as to why the date of the enforcement of the Act has been not been notified.

The gazette notification dated 10/9/2018 states, “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 1 of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 (16 of 2017), the Central Government hereby appoints the 10th day of September, 2018, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force.”

The notification was announced by the health ministry after the Hon’ble Delhi High court gave its observation on a PIL — Shebani Rose Verma v. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & Anr. W.P.(C) 8475/2018 — filled by HRLN’s advocate Sija Nair Pal and advocate Deepak Kumar Singh.

The Bill was introduced in Parliament by the previous government (UPA). The amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 were revived by NDA in July last year. Interestingly, the date of its enforcement was not notified by the health ministry.

The legislation prohibits discrimination against such persons in; accessing healthcare, employment, rent accommodation, education.

According to the provisions of the Act, without the consent, no HIV test, medical treatment or research will be conducted. Also, no person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status for obtaining employment. The only time it would have to be disclosed if the court demands it.

The Act has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people, which elaborates that every person below the age of 18 years of age has the right to shared housing and its facilities.

The legislation also prohibits publication of information or issuing/ advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Act, seeks to control and prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and to establish mechanism for redressing the complaints of persons affected with HIV and AIDS.

After hearing the PIL, the court has issued notice to the respondents and listed the matter for further proceeding on 26/11/2018.

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