It is a government policy by the HIV-positive for the HIV-positive. From January 2007, a new state policy to tackle AIDS will come into effect in the state — drafted by people afflicted with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) themselves.
This is another first for Maharashtra, which last month became the first state to introduce a workplace AIDS policy to ensure that state employees affected by the virus were not discriminated against.
In November, the government constituted a group, consisting entirely of HIV-positive people, to draft the state’s policy on fighting AIDS. After two days of brainstorming, the ‘positives’ submitted their draft.
Among other suggestions, the draft urged the state to strengthen anti-retroviral treatment centres in districts by training doctors, nurses and paramedics to tackle AIDS better.
The draft has been accepted by the state health department and Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS). It will complement the national policy on AIDS.
MSACS project director Prakash Sabde told Hindustan Times: “It is best to know what those who are HIV-positive have to say, as they are the targeted beneficiaries of our AIDS policies. They are best placed to tell us about the deficiency in services. That is why they were asked to prepare the draft.”
Shabana Patel, general secretary, Network of Maharashtra by People living with HIV/AIDS, which drafted the policy along with the Indian Network of Positive People, said: “It was the first time we were involved in policy formulation. We ‘positives’ are aware of our responsibility and are happy to help the MSACS.”