Introducing the HIV and AIDS Act, 2017
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can make people sick, and causes many conditions in the body, which is called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Sometimes, when the virus hits, a person might not feel sick right away, or might feel like a flu. The virus attacks the body’s defences, making it easier to get sick from other diseases like tuberculosis. This can lead to serious weight loss and poor health.
The virus spreads through unprotected sexual intercourse, dirty needles, and from gestational parent to child during birth, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. Some myths about HIV are that HIV spreads through spit or sweat, but that’s untrue. There are ways to prevent it such as using protection during sexual intercourse, giving treatments, there’s no vaccine, but with treatment, people can live almost normal lives. If not treated, life expectancy is around 11 years after getting infected.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Act (Prevention and Control) [HIV/AIDS Act], 2017 was passed on 20th April 2017 by both the houses of the Parliament. Lawyers Collective, a non-governmental organization, sent it as a draft bill to the National AIDS Control Organization.
This act was made to help people with HIV/AIDS. It has provisions which stops discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS and teaches people about this illness. The goal is to prevent discrimination and spread awareness.
This article discusses The HIV and AIDs Act, 2017 and its aspects. This act talks about the protection of people living with HIV/AIDS from being treated unfairly.
Basic Provisions of the Act
The HIV and AIDS Act, 2017 aims to stop discrimination because of the illness, punish those who discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS and give them the same rights and chances as everyone else. Here are certain basic provisions of the act for the protection of the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- According to Section 3 of the HIV/AIDS Act, 2017, there shall be no discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
- According to Section 5 of the HIV/AIDS Act, 2017, Informed consent for undertaking HIV test or treatment i.e., no one can test, treat, or study someone with HIV without their consent.
- 3.Under the Special Provisions of the HIV/AIDS Act, 2017, Section 29 of the act states that there is a right to reside in a shared household for people living with HIV and AIDS , it states that “every protected person shall have the right to reside in the shared household, the right not to be excluded from the shared household or any part of it and the right to enjoy and use the facilities of such shared household in a non-discriminatory manner” who is below the age of 18.
- According to Section 14 every person with HIV/AIDS has the right to take Anti-Retroviral Therapy and Opportunistic Infection Management.
Benefits of The Act
Considering the above-mentioned provisions of the act, here are some benefits of the Act:
- It provides the right to the people with HIV/AIDS to speak up if someone treats them unfairly i.e., for example, if someone is denied a job or housing because of their HIV status, they can file a complaint. Similarly, if a healthcare provider refuses to treat them, they can seek help through this law.
- They can live without discrimination and have their health care, education, public services, property rights, public office keeping and insurance.
- No one can spread hate against them.
- They can’t be forced to do medical treatments without their consent.
Redressal of complaints
There should be an ombudsman appointed according to Section 23 of the HIV/AIDS Act, 2017.
An Ombudsman is a person appointed by the State Government to address complaints and ensure that the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are protected. They can be a qualified individual or a designated government officer.
Powers and Duties of an ombudsman are:
Complaints Inquiry: When someone makes a complaint about discrimination or healthcare services related to HIV/AIDS, the Ombudsman will investigate it as per the rules set by the State Government.
Information Requirement: The Ombudsman can ask anyone for information they believe is necessary for the investigation. People must provide this information, and failing to do so can lead to legal consequences.
Record Keeping: Ombudsmen must maintain records as per the State Government’s guidelines.
Complaint Submission: People can submit complaints to the Ombudsman in the way prescribed by the State Government.
Decision Making: After receiving a complaint, the Ombudsman must decide within 30 days, following a hearing and providing reasons. In medical emergencies involving HIV-positive individuals, decisions should be made quickly, preferably within 24 hours.
Enforcement Assistance: All authorities, including civil authorities, in the Ombudsman’s area must help enforce the Ombudsman’s orders.
Reporting: Ombudsman must report to the State Government every six months. This report should include details about the number and types of complaints received, actions taken, and orders issued. The report should also be published on the Ombudsman’s website and sent to the Central Government.
Penalties for Breaking the Provisions of the Act
Below are stated certain consequences of breaking the provisions of the act:
- According to Section 38 of the Act, whoever fails to comply with any order given by an Ombudsman under Section 26, shall be liable to pay a fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees and in case the failure continues, with an additional fine which may extend to five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure continues.
- According to Section 39, whoever discloses information regarding the HIV status of a protected person which is obtained by them during or in relation to any proceedings before any court, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees unless such disclosure is pursuant to any order or direction of a court.
Suggestions for Improvement of the Act
This act can be improved and be made better through these suggestions:
- Teach people about HIV/AIDS and clear up wrong ideas and myths about it by creating awareness.
- Give mental health help to sick people who are affected by HIV or AIDS.
- The government should make a strong plan to stop HIV from spreading.
This plan can include:
- Awareness campaigns, accessible testing, affordable treatment, preventive measures, destigmatization efforts, and collaborative initiatives.
- Prioritizing education and reaching out to high-risk groups is vital. Ensuring available testing, inexpensive treatment, and specialized care facilities is crucial.
- Prevention programs, including harm reduction, condom distribution, and counseling, are essential.
- Combating stigma through legal protections and sensitization is imperative.
- Lastly, fostering partnerships with diverse stakeholders and regularly evaluating the plan’s effectiveness are key for lasting progress.
In conclusion this article recognises that HIV is a serious illness that can make people sick, and sometimes it turns into AIDS, which is even worse because it weakens the immune system even more, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections and diseases, which can lead to more serious health problems. There are ways to prevent it and a law to protect people with HIV/AIDS from being treated without discrimination.
The benefits of the Act are extensive from the right to fair treatment and healthcare to the prevention of hate spread against those with HIV/AIDS. However, violating the Act comes with penalties, reinforcing its importance. To enhance the Act’s effectiveness, suggestions include raising awareness, providing mental health support, strengthening government plans for HIV control, ensuring accessibility to condoms, aiding children’s care, and supporting drug users’ safety.
The HIV and AIDS Act, 2017 makes sure that they have rights like everyone else. It’s important to learn about HIV/AIDS and treat people with kindness and fairness.
Frequently Asked Questions
If any person has HIV positive, does he have any chance to get bank jobs or any other government jobs?
->Job interviews cannot inquire about your HIV status, and you are not obligated to disclose it.
->Employers cannot mandate HIV testing as a condition for employment, and you should not share test results.
->Termination due to seropositivity is unlawful. Medical leave and insurance entitlements remain unchanged.
->Violations of these rights provide a strong basis for legal action against current or potential employers.
Does the Act mandate the provision of free HIV treatment?
Does the Act address confidentiality issues related to HIV status?
How quickly does a person infected with HIV develop AIDS?
Written by Anjali Sharma (Intern) collaboration with Deeksha Rai and Sanjla Perumal (Editing).