Govt ready with a draft law to protect HIV/AIDS patients | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Govt ready with a draft law to protect HIV/AIDS patients

Nine years after India signed a United Nations convention to protect the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, a new draft law proposes to define non-consensual sex by an infected husband with his wife as sexual assault.

delhi Updated: Apr 12, 2010 23:52 IST

Nine years after India signed a United Nations convention to protect the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, a new draft law proposes to define non-consensual sex by an infected husband with his wife as sexual assault.

The draft law makes it mandatory for the governments to provide free medical care and insurance cover to HIV/AIDS patients. “Governments shall ensure that the availability of medical technologies and treatment required for prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS,” according to Section 12 of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2010.

The much delayed draft legislation, likely to be considered by the Union cabinet soon, also contains stringent provisions to check discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients and prescribes a maximum jail term of two years for those found guilty of spreading hatred.

Coming down heavily on any discrimination against infected persons, it provides for a maximum punishment of two years for those found guilty. Discrimination means “words whether spoken or written, or by visible representation spreading feelings of hatred against any protected persons”.

Dissemination of any such information through publication, broadcast, or advertisement which is likely to propagate hatred against the infected will be an offence under the new law. Several cases of discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients, especially in rural parts, have been reported. In India, there are an estimated 2.5 million (25 lakh) HIV/AIDS patients, according to National AIDS Control Organisation.

Alarmed at many women getting infected with the disease from their husbands, the draft law says: “Sexual assault includes non-consensual sexual contact by a man with his wife.” And the punishment for sexual assault would be equal to rape as defined in Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).