The recent news of the suspension of a professor of Aligarh Muslim University for allegedly having consensual sex with a rickshaw puller at his home in the university campus has raised the some social and legal issue in the country. The news has also raised the issue of HIV/AIDS in the country as men having sex with men is also a programme intervention under the national HIV/AIDS control program in the country. In fact NAZ foundation which is working amongst the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community was very vocal in protesting on the suspension order of the university. This suspension order of the university also goes against the Delhi high court’s landmark judgement which decriminalized homosexuality for consenting same sex adults to have sex.
In addition, the three core groups affected and infected in the HIV epidemic- men having sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users, are activities that are criminalized in India. Under such a situation, any health intervention work amongst these groups becomes daunting task. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), which implements the HIV/HIV programme in the country, also has targeted interventions for Men having sex with Men (MSM) though NGOs across the country and any news of this kind highlighted in the media can hamper its interventions.
The issue of stigma and discrimination is a big problem to tackle under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) and it is essential to address these social and legal issues to fight the problem of HIV/AIDS in the country. While HIV/AIDS has raised the issues of poverty, gender, stigma and discrimination and it also highlighted the issues of health, education, awareness and empowerment. The problem of HIV/AIDS has also opened the Pandora’s box of social evils, organized crime, gender inequality and poor social security in the country.
In India, it is reported that HIV is concentrated among the poor and marginalized section of the society. These include female sex workers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and migrant laborers. Survey and reports point out this profile is changing and the epidemic is now spreading from high risk population to the general population in many states and from urban to rural areas. This trend is certainly pointing towards a danger signal.
The organizations and people working in the field of HIV/AIDS have brought in the social and legal issues, particularly in cases of homosexuality and drug use and have seen high level of ignorance, denial, fear and intolerance about the problem. They say that it is partly due to fear and prejudice that people stigmatize and discriminate. Many human rights violation have taken places to people living with HIV/AIDS.
As treatment of HIV/AIDS is not fully development, awareness and knowledge of prevention are crucial to checking the spread of HIV. Besides this a campaign needs to be also done by organizations to encourage people to break the silence on the problem and confront and address the issue of stigma and discrimination prevailing in the society and thereby to win the fight against HIV/AIDS.