India’s parliament has just passed a historic bill that guarantees equal rights for citizens with HIV and AIDS.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill of 2017 was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The legislation guarantees that Indians suffering from HIV/AIDS are given equal access to medical treatment, employment, housing, religious burial grounds, and education. Failure to comply with the bill will be punishable by law.

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The first legislation concerning HIV to be passed in South Asia, the bill also prohibits expressions or publications of hatred, discrimination, or prejudice towards HIV-positive people.

In fact, the law outlines such a broad framework of acceptance, that representatives are hoping it will act as a base for further progressive action in the future.

“It is not the case that before the coming of this Bill, these people [those infected with HIV] were not empowered. But with the passage of this Bill, they will get more powers,” said Minister J.P. Nadda.

According to the Hindu, India’s funding for the second largest Anti-Retroviral Therapy program in the world has caused HIV infections to decrease by 67% and AIDS-related deaths to fall by 54%.

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