New Delhi: The HIV/AIDS Bill, which has been pending since 2006, was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The Bill seeks to protect people carrying the HIV virus from discrimination in the public and private sectors and puts an obligation on the state to provide them complete treatment free of cost.

The Bill was introduced after activists met with parliamentarians from the Telugu Desam party (TDP) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), requesting them to allow the Bill to be tabled.

Members of TDP have been disrupting the proceedings of the Parliament over the creation of the Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh, while members of the AIADMK and the DMK on Monday tore up and flung official papers for having been accused in a official bulletin for disturbing proceedings on Friday.

“We know the house will be adjourned and wanted the Bill to be tabled in this session," said Anand Grover from the advocacy group Lawyers Collective, which drafted the Bill.

“We met the speaker and MPs and told them these adjournments were affecting lives of ordinary people. It was critical that the Bill be tabled before elections. What it means now is that the Bill cannot be tinkered with and will, hopefully, be passed by the end of this year. We hope the new government will introduce it at the earliest," said Grover.

The HIV/AIDS Bill was first submitted to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2006, and has ever since shuttled between the health ministry and law and justice ministry with little progress.

According to the health ministry, more than 2 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in India.

Some of the key provisions in the HIV Bill are prohibition of discrimination in employment, education, healthcare, travel, and insurance in both the public and private sectors; and taking non-coerced, written informed consent for HIV testing, treatment and research. The Bill recognizes an HIV patient’s right to privacy and confidentiality about his or her HIV status, with some exceptions, and access to free treatment by the state.

As the Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha, it will not lapse once the term of the present Lok Sabha comes to an end. It is now expected to go to the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare for their recommendations. The standing committee deliberates and suggests modifications.

Note: This story has been modified from its first published version.

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