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New Law On HIV/AIDS To Be Implemented At The Monsoon Session Of Parliament

The monsoon session of Parliament is to pass a law that would protect HIV/AIDS patient's rights to privacy, work, and admission in a hospital, along with the right// for a woman with the right to seek an HIV test from a prospective groom before marriage.

India is supposedly the country with the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients reportedly around 57 lakh in the world and this bill is being proposed to control this problem at the marriage level. It is proposed that with this law, registration of marriages will also be made compulsory. It has however been explained that getting an HIV/AIDS test done could only be a voluntary condition for getting a marriage registered.

The law would also stipulate that not declaring HIV-positive status before marriage would be reasons for divorce and women will have the right to seek an HIV test from a husband or fiancée. It is reported that women will also have the right to declare an unregistered marriage void and have the right to make the sole decision on her pregnancy if she is HIV-positive.

It was reported that the HIV/AIDS Bill, which was drafted by the Lawyers collective for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been distributed among the different ministries for their observation. A senior ministry official said, "We expect to introduce the bill before the end of the monsoon session." The bill also stipulates that various states will be devising gender-based programmes that identify with the biological and socio-cultural factors influencing the health of women.

The states would also be required to establish sexual assault crises centres at the district level for the counselling of victims of sexual assault, including wives. The bill also deals in detail about the protection of children affected by HIV, like rights to property and education, with the states forming special schemes for the children infected by HIV. It was also reported that any form of discrimination aga inst HIV/AIDS patients at any level could result with imprisonment.

Meanwhile reports from Vietnam have shown that the rate of pregnant women having HIV in the country has risen 18.5 times. It was reported that the percentage of HIV infection among Vietnamese pregnant women rose to 0.37 percent in 2005 from 0.02 percent in 1994.

The Malaysian government has stressed on the need for more councillors so as to improve the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS. The Malaysian health minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said that one counsellor is needed for every 250 patients. Stating, "We need nurses and doctors who are trained to work with HIV/AIDS patients," Dr Chua said at a Press briefing at the Ministry, "We have already begun training nurses, and our goal is to train at least 103 HIV/AIDS counsellors within the next five years."

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