By Radheshyam Jadhav
Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that such a measure will help control discrimination and exclusion of HIV infected/affected children.
Red–tapism is the government’s predicament. “Any proposal or scheme has to go through various departments. It’s only after the government puts its act together that these children can live a dignified life. Popular pressure could work to make the government act,” said Sinha, a winner of Ramon Magsaysay award for her contribution in the field of child development and education.
“Our commission has come across several types of discrimination faced by HIV/AIDS affected children. It starts with the family when the affected mother and child are thrown out. Fracturing of families causes further problems. Actually, schools are the places which should embrace these children and teachers should not discriminate against them. However, it is sad to know that schools simply mimic societies. We all should try to create an environment to avoid such discrimination,” she said.
Noted activist and a member of Naz organisation, Anjali Gopalan and Ritu Parchure of Pune–based Prayas, shared their experiences while working on the fact–finding committee in the Hasegaon case. Some HIV positive children were admitted in a ZP school in Hasegaon (Latur). Following this, parents of 150 children of the 240 stopped sending their children to the school.
“We hope AIDS anti–discrimination Bill is approved by Parliament soon so that people living with the virus are not discriminated against,” said Gopalan.
The bill seeks to prohibit any social or financial discrimination against those affected by the virus.
The Bill – originally prepared by activists, lawyers and experts at NACO – has underlined provisions like right to equality, right to autonomy, right to privacy and health, right to safe working environment and right to information for all HIV positive people.
About 2.9 million HIV positive in India
India had an estimated population of 1.8 – 2.9 million HIV positive people in 2007, with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 0.34% (0.25%–0.43%). As the HIV prevalence among high risk groups (HRG) is very high compared to that among the general population, India continues to be in the category of concentrated epidemic. The sexual mode continues to be the major mode of transmission, though transmission through injecting drug use and men having sex with men (MSM) are on the rise in many new pockets.
The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) increased from 982 in 2004 to 4,987 in March 2009. The number of persons tested increased from 17.5 lakh in 2004 to 101 lakh in 2008–09. In 2008–09, 24,320 HIV–TB co–infected patients were diagnosed. The ICTCs provided counselling and testing to 46.3 lakh pregnant women, of whom 21,483 were found HIV positive.
(Source: Department of AIDS Control Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India – Annual report 2008–2009)
Source :Times of India