Panjim: Amid constant stigma and discrimination faced and with no legal protection has compelled children and adolescents living with HIV to write a letter to Health Minister, Vishwajit Rane in desperation. The state rules for the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control), Act 2017 is pending official notification since 2018.
Urging Health Minister to address it, over 100 adolescents and youth living with HIV signed the letter requesting the state to notify the state rules for the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control), Act 2017. The letter was handed over to the Additional Collector, Agnelo A. J. Fernandes at an event organized by Human Touch Foundation to mark World AIDS Day.
“We would like to highlight that we have been experiencing discrimination meted out against us in fields of employment, health care services, educational services, public facilities, property rights, and insurance. As you have done in the past, please, keep speaking out against HIV-related stigma and discrimination affecting children, adolescents, and their caregivers at home, in schools, and in the community”, states the letter.
The Union government had in 2018 implemented the Act prohibiting discrimination against people living with HIV in getting jobs, accessing facilities, admission in educational institutions, and renting accommodation. All the state governments were required to notify the rules and appoint an ombudsman to enquire into the complaints related to the violation of the Act. Despite the rules being framed in 2018, the state has not notified it and no ombudsman has been appointed, said Peter F. Borges, Founder of Human Touch Foundation.
According to the provisions of the Act, without the consent, no HIV test, medical treatment, or research will be conducted. Also, no person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status for obtaining employment. The only time it would have to be disclosed if the court demands it. The Act has provisions to safeguard the property rights of HIV positive people, which elaborates that every person below the age of 18 years of age has the right to shared housing and its facilities. Section 23 of the Act provides for the appointment of an ombudsman who responsible for dealing with complaints by any person regarding violations of the Act’s provisions.