Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Indian state to pass a legislation for mandatory pre-marriage HIV test

The Indian ExpressAndhra Pradesh, among the worst hit by HIV/AIDS in India, is set to become the first state to pass a legislation to make it mandatory for couples to undergo HIV testing before they can get married. According to officials, the intention behind the move is to make sure that there are no HIV positive babies born in the state by 2007. The issue was discussed today in the Andhra Assembly, shortly after Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and other MLAs took HIV tests.

Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary (Health) P K Agarwal said that the government has not yet decided on how exactly the new measure will be implemented. He said the Assembly had not yet passed any legislation on this but had only discussed it. “The climate in the state is right for such a Bill and legislators are serious about bringing in such legislation. So a formal Bill should be passed soon,’’ he said. Sources said that such a Bill is likely to come up for approval in the March session of the Assembly.

Agarwal said that the thinking behind such a move was to make sure that no children are born with the disease. “Sex is one of the main reasons that the disease is passed on. If it is known that the parents are HIV positive, then medication can ensure that the child is not born with the disease. Just because the parents have the disease, it does not mean that children have to get it as well,’’ said Agarwal.

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