Rohan Mukherjee and Adhiraj Gupta
International Bridges to Justice –JusticeMaker Garima Tiwari, along with Grayscale, a pan-Indian association of law student supporting the JusticeMakers initiative, conducted a survey on the General Awareness amongst Youth regarding HIV/AIDS in an urban set-up
For the purposes of this survey, the percentage of females in our pool of respondent is 63.33 % as opposed to the 36.67 % of the males. The respondents largely comprise of urban dwelling, highly educated young professionals or students. They have had the opportunity to be brought up in an environment where awareness campaigns ran galore- television, the radio and the newspapers covered the entire media circle and made it possible for them to be aware of the parcel that goes with it. As per the data collected, it is expected that this age group would be aware of the various ways by which HIV could spread.
As per our survey, 83.33 % of our respondents agreed that victims of HIV/AIDS had the right to marriage, 16.67 % of them were not aware of any existing mechanisms. The shocking part being that out of these 16.67 %,80% were practicing advocates and the rest were professionals in an MNC- ergo, the educated and intellectuals, unaware of the laws and the rights of a person victimized of HIV/AIDS.
On being asked if there should be some form of an arrangement for the people living with HIV/AIDS so that they can live away from the society, 93.33 % of them responded in the negative, 3.335 % of them had no opinion and 3.335% responded in the positive. If we had to analyze this 3.335 % that responded in the positive, we see that it is the opinion of a law student, none-the-less. It might seem insignificant, but every decimal point matters, and when a young individual pursuing a law degree, can have this bent of mind, there is something terribly wrong with what we are teaching the future generation.
96.67 % of the respondents believe that children with HIV/AIDS should be able to study in the same classroom as other children. This is reflective of the successful awareness campaigns that are run state-wise. The social stigma attached to children of HIV/AIDS victims and to the victims themselves, has been eradicated to a large extent as compared to what the status quohad been a decade back.
43% of the respondents were of the opinion that there should be special hospitals and treatment centers, while 30% people responded in the negative, and the remaining 26% has no opinion on this issue. The fact that an astounding 93.3% of the respondents believed that people afflicted with HIV/AIDS were suffering from discrimination is an indication of the level of awareness in society. However, despite the majority of the population being aware of such discrimination, there have been very few steps to remedy the same, and this is a cause of worry.
80% of the people who took our survey believed that there was a need for increasing awareness regarding HIV/AIDS and advocating for the legal rights of people afflicted by the same, while only 16% of the population answered in the negative.
When considering the question as to whether there existed any special law for people suffering from HIV/AIDS, 40% of the respondents had no knowledge regarding the same, and a further 40% answered in the negative, with only 20% answering in the positive.
The fact that 83% of the respondents were aware that it is illegal for the employer to discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS goes to show that the overall level of awareness in the country has risen. However what’s interesting to not here is that the people, who answered in the negative in this question, include a lawyer, a teacher and a media person.
From the total number of people we surveyed, almost 43% of the respondents were unaware of the confidentiality requirements relating to HIV/AIDS, with a large chunk consisting of lawyers and law students. Despite, lawyers and law students seeking to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, the paradox emerges, that they are ill-informed about the dynamics surrounding this issue. 46% of the respondents were aware of the fact that there existed some confidentiality requirements, while were very few people could actually specify what these requirements were.
73% of the respondents (lawyers and law students) were of the opinion that lawyers should help in spreading awareness among the general population so as to protect and promote the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS. The remaining percentage of respondents believed that lawyers should help people afflicted with HIV/AIDS to live a normal life. The majority of the respondents were of the opinion that the population of this country should be educated about HIV/AIDS, and that the government should take steps to ensure the same, instead of enacting a new law.
What can be concluded from this data and the analysis done above, is that that there still exists some loopholes, some cracks and disparities in the way the awareness is spread in the society. As emphasized repeatedly throughout this paper, if these flaws exist while surveying a handful of respondents- both urbane and educated- then, the condition of the lesser than fortunateis far worse. Spreading awareness amongst the youth would therefore, go a long way in protecting the society againstsuch opinions from translating into actions.
Following are the general questions which were asked:
- Name, Age, Gender, Location, Profession
- What is the full form of HIV and AIDS?
- What are the sources of transmission?
- Do people living with HIV/AIDS have a right to marry?
- Should there be arrangement for the people living with HIV/AIDS to live away from the society?
- Should children with HIV/AIDS study in same school with other kids?
- Are there special hospitals and treatment centers for People Living with HIV/AIDS?
- Do you think there is discrimination against those People who live with HIV/AIDS?
- Are there legal rights for those living with HIV/AIDS? If yes, are you aware of any? If no, do you think there is a need?
- Are there special laws to protect the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS?
- Is it illegal for employers to discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS?
- Are you aware of the confidentiality requirements relating to HIV/AIDS?
- What role can a lawyer play in protecting and promoting the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS?