ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Critical Anthropology

AIDS road to Authoritarianism THE new AIDS Prevention Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha raised a number of disturbing questions. It confers extraordinary powers on the designated health authorities (Sections 3, 4, 5 and 12). It should be noted that the prevailing tests (like ELISA) to confirm the presence of the crucial Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) are highly (controversial in nature. Studies have established that the ELISA test has a high rate of false positives. In any case HIV does not always lead to AIDS, In such a context to give any extraordinary power to medical civil servants, to determine the presence of the virus and to initiate follow-up action can easily degenerate Into authoritarian abuses. In a vast country like ours which is yet to provide adequate ordinary medical facilities to all its citizens, the proposed new infrastructure (Sections 7 and 9) looks like a cruel joke. At best the proposed structures can lead to the formation of yet another bureaucratic edifice and at worst they can become penal institutions, albeit with a medical cloak. The bill nowhere guarantees the confidentiality to the patient, worse, it is eloquently silent on the institutional responsibility in the spread of the virus. Recently, it was reported that a premier institute like AIIMS supplied contaminated blood fluids. The bill enables such institutions or companies to go scot free while putting all the onus on individual citizens.

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