Indian Human Rights Group Recommends HIV Antidiscrimination Policy
During a conference in New Delhi on Nov. 24-25, the Indian National Human Rights Commission agreed to back legislation that would prevent private employers from discriminating against those infected with HIV, the Lancet reports. The Indian constitution prohibits discrimination against workers in the public sector on the grounds of "religion, caste or creed," and the Mumbai High Court ruled in 1997 that state-sponsored companies cannot deny employment to HIV patients -- but "no such guarantee" exists in the private sector. At the NHRC conference on human rights and HIV/AIDS, participants recommended antidiscrimination legislation for the private sector and urged the government to "guarantee a safe working environment" and provide health insurance for HIV-positive employees. In an address to the conference, Indian Health Minister C.P. Thakur promised to take the recommendations under advisement. Anand Grover of the Lawyers Collective, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organization, added, "In addition to an umbrella law on antidiscrimination, we need to amend a number of other laws like the Indian Penal Code, Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, that impede HIV/AIDS intervention programs." The NHRC has also established a 10-member core advisory group on public health and human rights. "We will act both as a ... channel of ideas to the NHRC and as a referral panel on specific health-related cases," panel chair Dr. K. Srinath Reddy said (Sharma, Lancet, 12/9).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.