The Federal Government is planning to introduce legislation that will make “stigmatization and discrimination” of/against HIV/AIDS infected patients at work place, education institutions, and hospitals a crime.
Disclosing this plan at the India Economic Summit, Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss said that the proposed legislation will take action against the guilty. Ramdoss says that this legislation will also cover patients with tuberculosis (TB) also.
Perhaps he has taken the cue from Maharashtra that had recently passed legislation that ensures HIV infected state government employees do not face discrimination at workplace but does not cover autonomous, semi-autonomous, and private enterprises. While the intention of the minister is laudable, his proposal is like legislating good behavior. He should instead focus on creating awareness of these diseases, facilities for the treatment of those infected, safe environment for their rehabilitation, and a process to contain the spread of these ailments.
The problems faced by those infected are two fold—social isolation and inability to treat the disease. With better awareness of the diseases, the former is likely to go away but the second part of it needs more attention from the Government. Private companies will rather pay for the medical rehabilitation of an employee with these diseases and keep the employee off premises so as not to risk further infection through ignorance of inappropriate contact. Insisting employees with TB to attend workplace where air-conditioning systems can freely carry germs is ill-conceived and will be resisted by the private sector.