Mah govt favours mandatory pre-marriage HIV test

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Mumbai, Jan 31 (UNI) Maharashtra Government favours mandatory HIV test before marriage and will seek public opinion on this issue before taking a final decision, Health Minister Vimal Mundada said.

Dr Mundada today attended the second round of meeting of the legislative committee comprising of legislators from all political parties here.

She said the Government agrees to the committee's view that pre-marriage HIV test be made compulsory in order to create awareness about AIDS and control the spread.

Members of the committee -- Minister of State for Health Ranjit Kamble and MLAs Sangitrao Bhosale, N P Hirani, Bunty Patil, Dr Deepak Sawant, Dr Satish Patil, Dr Vasant Pawar, Dr Sanjay Kuthe and Additional Chief Secretary Chandra Iyengar were present for the meeting.

All the members advocated the need for mandatory pre-marriage HIV test. They also agreed that the final decision should be taken after public opinion on the issue.

Dr Mundada said division-wise seminars and debates would be organised to create awareness on the issue. She also made it clear that the Government would ensure that there is no injustice done to anybody.

Mr Bunty came out in strong defence of the pre-marriage HIV test while Dr Deepak Sawant said a legislation could be enacted if there is political will and intention by the government.

Other legislators said the state should take the lead in enacting such a legislation and other states will follow.

Mr Ranjit noted that despite laws prohibiting child-marriage and mandatory registration of marriage, there have been violations of the existing laws in rural areas to a large extent.

''The mind-set of the people in rural areas is yet to change. We will have to examine whether the objective would be achieved by enacting new laws. If people are not ready to register their marriages, how can mandatory HIV test be a success,'' he asked.

Dr Mundada informed that there are 678 HIV testing centres in the state. Every Rural hospital and Primary Health Care (PHC) centre has the facility, he added.

She said laws should not remain on paper and for them to be a success, people's attitude and mind-set needs to change. The need of the hour is to prepare people to change their mind-sets, she suggested.

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