On April 11, the Lok Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill 2017. This bill, which has been passed to improve public health laws for the HIV-positive community, aims to prevent and control the disease and also protect the human rights of those afflicted.
According to News 18, in a response during the debate before the bill was passed, Health Minister JP Nadda said,
It will empower the people affected with the disease by giving them legal sanctity. The bill prohibits any kind of discrimination against such people on grounds of treatment, employment, and workplace.
This bill had been passed earlier in Rajya Sabha on March 22, 2017. According to The Indian Express, this bill was first introduced in 2014 by senior Congress leader and former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to prevent the spread and control of HIV in India. Around 2.1 million people were suffering from HIV in India till 2015, as per the UNAIDS Gap Report. In 2015, there were around 68,000 people who died of AIDS and 86,000 more people who had acquired the disease.
The bill concentrates majorly on protection from the discrimination those affected by the disease face at the workplace. When it comes to the diseased person's access to treatments, the bill states that it will be provided "as far as possible." There are many who have criticised the usage of this phrase and stated that it defeats the bill's purpose. According to The Indian Express, during the Rajya Sabha session, CPI leader D Raja said,
This is an escape route provided to state governments which do not want to fulfil their responsibility.
According to Scroll, while responding to this concern, Nadda said treatment would be provided free of cost to all HIV patients. Nadda said,
We do not have to write this in the bill. We stand committed [to providing free treatment to HIV-positive people.