HIV – AIDS Act 2017
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, came into force on September 10, 2018.
It aims to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country and provides for penalties for discrimination against those affected by the virus. Introduced by senior Congress leader GhulamNabi Azad in 2014, the Bill was passed by the RajyaSabha on March 22, 2017, and a month later by the LokSabha on April 12. It received the assent of the President on April 20, 2017.
India has the third largest HIV-infected population with an estimated 2 million people. The country aims to decrease new infections by 75 per cent between 2010 and 2020 and eliminate AIDS by 2030.
The Act prohibits discrimination or unfair treatment of HIV-infected people on any grounds. It prohibits denial or discontinuation of healthcare services, right of movement, right to reside, purchase, rent or occupy property and hold public or private office etc.
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 state and Centre must make diagnostic facilities, anti-retroviral therapy and opportunistic infection management available to all HIV-infected people, and ensure wide dissemination of the same.
Every state has to appoint one or more Ombudsmen to inquire into violations of the provisions of the Act. Within 30 days of receiving a complaint, the Ombudsman is required to pass an order as he deems fit. Failing to comply with the orders of the Ombudsman attracts a penalty of up to Rs 10,000.