Author(s): Padmavati A
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Abstract PIP: Though global focus upon AIDS has centered largely upon the United States and countries in Africa, the growing number of AIDS cases and HIV-infected persons in India should not be ignored. The number of reported HIV+ cases have increased from zero in September, 1989, to 910 by June, 1990. Reports have come from 4 cities, and from the northeastern states of Manipur and Nagaland. India's policymakers and legislative bodies have not, however, responded in the most constructive manner to the introduction of HIV and AIDS in the country. This commentary describes existing and proposed laws regarding the handling of persons with AIDS and those exposed to HIV, and critiques them as being unfair, unjust, and unreasonable. 1st, the Goa Public Health Act of 1987, was amended to require authorities to isolate anyone found HIV+. This Act violates Articles 19.1.d and 21. Next, AIDS prevention Bill 1989, has been proposed which would mandate every medical practitioner to inform local health authorities about the presence of an AIDS patient, and allow health authorities to forcibly question, test, and isolate an HIV-infected person in a hospital. No confidentiality provision is included to protect an individual's serological status from public disclosure. Yet another Bill introduced in Maharashtra Legislative Council by the former Public Health Minister would allow the arrest of persons with AIDS for subsequent detention in segregation camps. These bills violate human rights, and will only drive AIDS underground. The efforts of a group of activists working against this legislation in Delhi are described. They have suggested and demanded the establishment of an unit to receive and act upon discrimination complaints from AIDS victims, in addition to the release of all HIV+ persons detained in prisons, hospitals, and vigilance homes.
This article was published in Newsl Womens Glob Netw Reprod Rights
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Legal Sciences