Delhi citizens walk for the rights of HIV patients

May 21st, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Incessant rains Wednesday morning might have thrown life out of gear for most residents of the capital, but it failed to dampen the spirits of nearly 150 people who undertook the “AIDS Walk for Rights” here. The walk, part of the Global AIDS Week of Action, saw participation by a range of people, including HIV/AIDS patients, NGOs and others who support the cause.

Celina, national advocacy minister of the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, said that the aim of the walk was to seek the approval of the HIV/AIDS Bill which is at present in the consultation phase with the law ministry.

“The HIV/AIDS Bill will ensure that the rights of the HIV/AIDS patients are not violated. It will ensure non-discrimination, be it in education, employment, access to treatment, legal support…for the women especially, this bill will be a big boon,” Celina told IANS.

Raghu Ram, one of the people at the walk, said: “This is a cause I strongly support. My brother is an HIV patient and despite being educated and living in a metro, the kind of discrimination that he faces everyday is shocking”.

Although the walk was supposed to be from Jantar Mantar in the heart of New Delhi to the health ministry office at Nirman Bhavan, it concluded at the Parliament Street.

“We submitted a memorandum to the law ministry to approve it (bill) immediately.”

“We have also faxed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, besides others, expressing our grievances and urging them to help in approval of the bill, which is pending with the government since 2005 and is not yet tabled in parliament,” Celina added.

The letter states: “The importance of political will and the role of the parliamentarians in the HIV epidemic was recognised through a declaration at the first National Convention of Parliamentarian Forum of HIV/AIDS in 2003.”

“According to the Common Minimum Programme, the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has also pledged to provide leadership to national AIDS control effort,” Celina said.

Besides the walk in Delhi, several other activities like seminars, candlelight vigils, rallies and workshops have been organised in 10 states as part of the ongoing Global AIDS Week of Action, which began May 18.

Similar work is also being carried out in 30 other countries where activists are organising activities to hold world leaders accountable on their landmark commitment to fight AIDS made at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) in 2001.

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