Greater involvement of people living with HIV (GIPA) initiative
According to UNAIDS, in 2016, an average of 36.7 million people globally were living with HIV but only 19.5 million of them had access to antiretroviral therapy. 1.8 million people became newly infected in the same year and over 1 million lives were lost to AIDS-related illnesses. India has one of the largest numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS, ranking third after South Africa and Nigeria.
While it is generally accepted the world over that there must be a twin strategy for combating HIV/AIDS — prevention and treatment — the Indian government has focused largely on prevention, with far less emphasis on treatment. Furthermore, people living with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized and face significant discrimination. In this context, the HIV/AIDS and the Law Initiative at HRLN uses a rights-based approach to support people affected by HIV against all forms of discrimination by defending their fundamental human rights including their right to life, health, privacy, education, employment, housing, and other matters.
Slideshow - PIL's and Cases
14/01/2011HIV +ve pregnant woman denied treatment
What HRLN Does
The HIV/AIDS and the Law initiative was established to create mechanisms to provide critical legal assistance to HIV-affected persons and empower them to combat stigma and discrimination. We do this by training and empowering stakeholders and community leaders to identify and resolve legal problems, setting up and running HIV legal aid centers, and providing free legal aid to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The Initiative focuses particularly on providing support to vulnerable and marginalized communities such as women, children, transgenders, commercial sex workers, prisoners, men who have sex with men (MSM), and intravenous drug users (IDUs), amongst others.
To facilitate easy and increased access to the justice system for HIV-positive people, we have established a pan–India network of HIV/AIDS Legal Aid Centres, wherein our lawyers partner with Positive Network Groups to provide legal aid. Thus far, over 25 such centers have been set up in collaboration with positive network, NGOs, SHGs, etc. These centers are in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Kerala, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
A key element in our work is fostering partnerships with Positive Network Groups, and CBOs, NGOs and other vulnerable groups at the state and district levels, and creating a bond with their community leaders. The partnerships and networks formed at these levels help more people access legal aid by creating a space for legal counseling, litigation, legal interventions and redressal in all forms.
- Treatment and medical care related issues
- Education, medical, and employment discrimination
- Family discrimination
- Property rights
- Gender discrimination
- Adoption and guardianship
In a petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2003, the court directed the Government of India to provide free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to HIV-positive persons. Under pressure from this petition and activist groups, the government announced free ARV drugs for all people living with HIV/AIDS across the country (See: Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (VHAP) Vs. Union of India).
The initiative has also filed a petition seeking the provision of free second-line drugs, and accessibility of OI and other treatment-related drugs without waiting periods, free tests for CD4 counts, clean treatment centers, availability of PEP kits, travel passes on concession and subsidised food cards, among other things.
The Initiative’s two-day National Judicial Colloquium on HIV/AIDS and the Law in 2007 brought together over 50 judges from the various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India, along with eminent speakers from South Africa as well as the Indian Parliament. Partnered by UNAIDS, the colloquium provided the space for an intense discussion on many legal and social issues surrounding HIV and or AIDS. A major publication, the first of its kind in India – HIV/AIDS and the Law, volumes I & II — produced by its team contains case laws on HIV and legal issues. It has served as a ready reference for Judges at all levels as well as for lawyers and members of the affected communities to access information on case laws and judgments. The initiative has also published books on the struggle for treatment, the ethics of mandatory HIV testing, and produced a documentary film on HIV and rights titled “I want to Live” that has been screened in India and major international festivals in Canada, Germany and the UK.
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