Highly dissatisfied with the third draft of the HIV/AIDS bill which the law ministry has proposed, nearly 200 people, including those living with HIV, staged a protest outside the ministry office in the capital on Wednesday.
According to the protesters, many of whom have come from as far as Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata to take part in the protest, 38 key provisions necessary to safeguard the rights of HIV positive people have been deleted in the draft.
Daisy David, a member of the Chennai Network of Positive People, said: "We are very disheartened by the way the law ministry has been handling the HIV bill. Even after repeated requests, the key provisions in the bill have been deleted."
"In 2006, the HIV/AIDS bill was prepared after intensive discussions with different stakeholders, including people living with HIV, sex workers and injecting drug users. That is the version of the bill that we want to be reinstated and passed by parliament," David told IANS.
According to Raman Chawla of the Lawyers Collective which has been fighting for the passage of the HIV/AIDS bill, the 2006 version of the bill was prepared by the health ministry and sent to ministry of law and justice for vetting.
"However, a much diluted version of the bill was sent back by the law ministry in 2007. Protests followed later and then the law ministry again sent a draft of the bill - almost like the last one," Chawla said.
Pradip Dutta, a member of the Delhi Network of Positive People, said that while there are 38 provisions which they are demanding to be reinstated in the bill, one of the major demands is emergency services for an HIV patient.
"A lot of times HIV patients are denied treatment in hospitals despite being an emergency. Therefore, we want a health official be appointed, as mentioned by the health ministry, who will give orders within 24 hours if such a situation arises," Dutta told IANS.
"Also a lot of times we see that children whose HIV positive parents have died are denied their right over the family property. Therefore, there should be a provision by which the property rights of a child of HIV parents are protected," he added.