The National Assembly completed debate Wednesday on the section of the HIV/AIDS law that prohibits discrimination against people infected with the deadly disease or the virus that causes it.
Chapter eight of the draft law is designed to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS are guaranteed the same rights as other people, including prohibition of discrimination in the work place, elected offices, financial dealings and even burial.
Article 36, which prohibits discriminating against HIV/AIDS sufferers trying to receive credit, loans and health insurance prompted some debate among National Assembly lawmakers, who wanted to guarantee that the law did not interfere with companies’ abilities to conduct their businesses. “Any restriction imposed on the bank or insurance company will affect the business economically, because they need to have options in choosing clients,” said Tioulong Saumura, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and a former National Bank of Cambodia official.
The article was re-written to clarify that HIV/AIDS was not a guarantee of credit, loans or health insurance.
Discrimination against victims of HIV/AIDS persists in Cambodian society, with fear or misunderstanding of the disease leading sufferers to be ostracized.
The discrimination chapter has been hailed as the most significant portion of the law, which aims to prevent and control the spread of the virus, which leads to a weakening of the immune system and death.
As passed, the chapter also guarantees admission to schools and other educational benefits. Hiring, promotion and duties cannot be determined or denied by an individual’s HIV/AIDS status. Sufferers are also entitled to freedom of travel and of places to live, and cannot be “quarantined” because of the affliction.
Victims also can run for elective office or seek government appointments, and cannot be denied entry into health institutions, or be charged more for their services. Appropriate burial is also guaranteed under the law on HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Debate will resume Friday on the next chapter of the law, which outlines provisions for the National AIDS Authority.