Imphal, Sept. 29: The Manipur government’s failure to bring a bill to amend state AIDS Control Policy has evoked sharp reactions from the secretary of Manipur Legislature Forum on AIDS, I. Ibohalbi Singh.
The Manipur state AIDS Control Society, a government agency, had promised an amendment to the state AIDS Control Policy three years back.
“In 2010, the society announced on December 1 —World AIDS Day — that the policy would be amended. However, the government is yet to introduce a bill in the Assembly,” Ibohalbi Singh said during a one-day consultation programme on HIV and AIDS here today.
Governor Gurbachan Jagat released a draft revised policy on December 1, 2010.
Last year, chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh who is also the chairman of the society, said on World AIDS Day that drafting of the revised policy, which was first introduced in 1996, was in its final stage.
“The delay in introducing a bill is an insult to the governor and the chief minister,” Ibohalbi Singh said.
Manipur is one of the worst AIDS-hit states in the country. According to the control society, 42,116 people, including children, have tested HIV positive in the state.
Of the total positive population only 19,629 have registered in nine anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres. Of these only 49, including 34 women and one child, are on second line ART treatment.
Though the HIV/AIDS situation is considered “stable”, the issue of discrimination remains a concern.
For instance, the chief functionary of Christian Network of Positive Women was thrown out of her rented house with her seven-year-old daughter after the house owner came to know her status. She requested reporters at the programme not to publish her photograph and name while sharing her experience on how she had received the virus from her husband who was an intravenous-drug user. She has been living with HIV for the last 17 years.
“During a conference in Geneva, the joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) promised me that financial assistance would be extend generously if the policy is revised. As the policy, which will tackle all the issues of discrimination and government aid to victims, has not been amended, the state could not get the help,” Ibohalbi Singh said.
He and the organisers noted with “serious concern” the failure of officials of the AIDS Control Society and social welfare department to attend today’s programme.
The programme organised jointly by Women Action for Development, Community Network for Empowerment, Christian Network for Positive Women and Self Support Group and NGOs recommended passing of an AIDS bill in Assembly’s winter session.