New Delhi, Mar 21 :  A crucial bill to ensure equal rights to people afflicted by HIV and AIDS in getting treatment, admission in educational institutions and jobs, was passed by the Rajya Sabha today. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention) and Control) Bill, 2014, moved by Health Minister J P Nadda, was passed in the Upper House by a voice vote.

During the debate on the measure, many members suggested amending the Section 14(1) of the bill, to remove the phrase “as far as possible” for providing medical treatment by the Centre and the states to those infected with HIV and AIDS.

In his reply to the debate, Nadda said “I would like to inform the House that while making the rules, we will ensure that nobody is denied treatment and we are committed to provide medical treatment to all those living with HIV or AIDS. We are going with an aggressive policy.” Stessing the government’s commitment to the issue, the minister said “India will treat anyone with HIV and AIDS.

Anyone in India having HIV or AIDS, the Government of India will take care of the treatment.” He said there will be a provision in the rules to provide justification for denying treatment to the patients. A large number of members were of the view that the phrase ‘as far possible” would defeat the purpose of the bill as it provides a leeway to the Centre and the States.

The section says: “The measures to be taken by the Central or State Governments under Sector 13 shall include measures for providing as far as possible, anti-retroviral therapy and opportunistic management to people living with HIV or AIDS.” The minister said the passage of the bill made this day a “historic day” because the government can now ensure better quality of life to people living with these diseases.

On the members concern over insufficient allocation for National AIDS Control Programme, Nadda said Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated for this year and there is no question of reducing funds for this central scheme. Congress member Jairam Ramesh had said during the debate that the government has provided Rs 2,000 crore for the scheme for 2017-18 which should be raised to higher levels. On the issue of infection from blood sourced from various blood banks, Nadda said the government is giving special attention to this issue and the number of such cases have come down drastically.