30 January 2012
The Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) will establish legal services clinics in 41 ART (anti-retroviral therapy) centres across the State to provide free legal services to people living with HIV (PLHIV). KSAPS is launching this initiative in collaboration with the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA). Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Salma K. Fahim, project director of KSAPS said: “We are planning to make these clinics functional in another one month (by February-end), one each in all the 30 districts and an additional four each in Bengaluru and Belgaum. We had preliminary meetings to discuss the plan of action along with the KSLSA and Karnataka Network of Positive People (KNP+).”
The legal centres are part of KSAPS effort to ensure zero stigma and discrimination against HIV/AIDS affected people. Ms Fahim said that HIV patients are often victims of social discrimination and the clinics — similar to ones set up in Tamil Nadu and Kerala will help them to know their rights.
Two workshops to sensitise lawyers deployed at the legal centres have been held and two more will be held soon. “During the workshops, advocates will be provided with basic facts on HV/AIDS, ethical and legal issues of PLHIV, sensitisation about sex and sexuality of special communities, care of orphans and vulnerable children and social stigma and discrimination against HIV,” Ms Fahim said. The trained advocates will in turn impart training to advocates in their respective districts and taluks and these will form the backbone of the free legal services to be imparted at the 41 ART centres on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
The Care-Co-ordinators of these 41 ART centres will be the contact persons for the PLHIV. They will co-ordinate and refer them to the ART centres. Staff nurses at the ART centres will register all cases of PLHIV seeking legal services and this will be entered in the centre’s data base to ensure that all registered cases are addressed by the trained advocates. Ms Fahim said there are plans to appoint a police officer as the nodal officer in every district for registering cases of stigma and discrimination by employers at the workplace, teachers in educational institutions, providers in health care institutions and in the community at large.