Appeal for protection of HIV victims’ rights

Kathmandu, March 27:

Human right activists today stressed the need to ensure the rights of the HIV-infected people and guarantee them free legal aid and medication, during the interaction on “HIV/AIDS and Access to Justice” jointly organised here today by the Nepal Environment Lawyers Association (NELA), Conscious Media Forum and Nava Kiran Plus.

Gokul Pokhrel, member of NHRC, said the government should guarantee people with HIV and their families free legal aid, free counselling facilities and free treatment.

“If we ignore the disease now, there is high chance that Nepal might face the fate of the African countries where HIV/AIDS rates are very high,” said Pokhrel.

Effective legal services and easy access to justice are essential to end the stigma and discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS, Megharaj Pokharel, advocate and focal person at NELA, HIV/AIDS Unit, said.

Presenting his concept paper “HIV and AIDS and Access to Legal Services,” Pokharel emphasised the need to improve public education on the rights of people living with HIV/ AIDS and to ensure that the existing legal advice offices are able to handle HIV-related issues.

Pokhrel said that protection of rights of the infected persons is only the effective way to address HIV/ AIDS epidemic. Pradip Ghimire, representative, National Centre for AIDS and STD Control, said the government has taken a multi-sector approach to address problems of HIV victims.