World Vision India urges Government to pass the HIV Bill on a priority
Seeks easy access to antiretroviral therapy for People living with HIV
Bangalore, March 11, 2011: World Vision India today at an interactive session urged the Government of India to pass the HIV Bill in the Parliament at the earliest. Also, the NGO appealed to the Government to ensure easy access of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The HIV Bill is aimed at ensuring equal rights for PLHIV so that they don’t face discrimination at work, healthcare centers, in education and other settings. The Bill is also expected to provide a safe working environment for healthcare workers, protection for risk reduction programmes, special provisions for women, children and young people and importantly recognizes the right of children and young people to access healthcare services and information in their own right.
The interactive session held at Bangalore witnessed HIV and AIDS activists including children from across Karnataka deliberating on the status of PLHIV in the State with special focus on children-related issues. The speakers unanimously demanded that all stakeholders communicate the charter of demands as widely as possible and create a common voice for children affected by HIV and AIDS. Further, there was unanimity amongst the speakers that the HIV Bill would provide the much needed support to further the cause of PLHIV.
Initiating the discussion Reni Jacob, Advocacy director, World Vision India, said the challenges faced by children are multifaceted, which requires response much beyond prevention and treatment. The issue becomes important as more than 70,000 children are affected with HIVand AIDS (UNAIDS 2007) and every year about 21,000 children are infected through mother–to-child transmission and thousands of children are affected because their parents are HIV positive.
According to Daisy David, Advocacy Associate, World Vision India, it is estimated that only 11,489 of an estimated 49,000 pregnant women living with HIV received anti-retroviral treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The reasons could be attributed to lack of family support, institutional constraints and non-availability & lack of accessibility. Thus it was suggested that the Government should initiate measures that would facilitate easy access of ART for PLHIV.
Speakers at the interactive session also deliberated the following issues and sought appropriate intervention at various levels for suitable solutions.
- Right to protection and participation includes the right of a child to participate in decisions affecting their life, disclosure of child’s/parents’ HIV status, freedom from stigma and discrimination due to their or parents’ HIV status, succession plan and access to legal help in matters pertaining to property rights and violations of other rights
- Focus on keeping parents alive and healthy and family- and community-based care especially in the case of orphans and child-headed homes
- Access to prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV, early infant HIV diagnosis, paediatric ART, drugs to treat opportunistic infections and treatment managed by a trained paediatrician
- Testing and treatment for infants
- Access to child-centric information, psychosocial support in a child-friendly environment
- Access to HIV education through child-friendly communications
- Access to child-friendly counsellors and psychosocial therapies
It may be noted that India has 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients who more often than not have to battle discrimination and social ostracism at various levels. Against this backdrop World Vision India along with other partner organizations is having interactive sessions so as to create awareness amongst various stake holders and sensitize the civil society and also relevant Government authorities. The charter of demands of PLHIV is expected to serve as a tool to advocate a common message on issues affecting them.