India Just Took A Huge Step To End HIV Stigma

Photo: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images.
A revolutionary bill passed in India Tuesday, making it illegal to discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDs, CNN reports.
The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill makes it illegal to discriminate against people living with the virus in the workplace, to deny access to education, housing and health care, and to deny them the right to run for or hold public or private office. It also makes it illegal to refuse people with HIV entry to businesses or other attractions open to the public, according to CNN.
India is the largest country to pass a bill of this kind, which will no doubt make life at least a little easier for the more than 2 million people in India living with HIV.
The new law doesn't mean that all discrimination will suddenly stop, but does take a step forward in ending HIV stigma in the country.
Unlike living with cancer and most other illnesses, living with HIV/AIDs is still seen as shameful. The stigma that comes along with sexually transmitted infections isn't just unfounded, it's actually damaging to both the physical and mental health of those with the virus.
About one out of every eight people living with HIV/AIDs is denied important health services because of stigma surrounding their status, according to AVERT.
This new law makes that kind of discrimination illegal.
"This legislation begins to remove barriers and empowers people to challenge violations of their human rights," Steve Kraus, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, told CNN.
In case you were wondering (because we were) the U.S. does have a similar anti-discrimination law for people living with HIV/AIDs. According to the Human Rights Campaign, HIV and AIDs are protected under the American Disability Act, which makes it illegal to deny anyone with a disability a job and housing among other things.
And if you're a person living with HIV/AIDs and have faced discrimination because of your status, you can file a complaint with your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office.

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