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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Aids warning for Indian children

By Sanjeev Srivastava
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Aids victim in Bombay
Many young sufferers are segregated
An international rights group says India's failure to prevent widespread abuses against children affected by HIV is putting millions of lives at risk.

US-based group Human Rights Watch says this is undermining Delhi's anti-Aids policy.

It calls upon the government to introduce legislation to ensure that HIV infected children are not discriminated against in any manner.

More than five million Indians are infected with the HIV virus, second only to South Africa.

Segregation

In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch says there could be about one million Indian children under the age of 15 who have lost one or both parents to Aids.

Nearly all of them whether or not they are HIV positive, face expulsion or segregation in schools, hospitals and even orphanages.

HIV positive woman in India - (copyright - UNAids)
India is home to one in seven HIV-positive people

The report also criticises the Indian government for its complete failure in providing information about Aids prevention to millions of children who are not in school but on the streets, at work, in institutions, in non-formal schools and at home.

Sexual abuse and violence against women and girls, coupled with their long standing subordination in Indian society, makes them even more vulnerable.

The report says if the Indian government is serious about combating Aids it should stop ignoring children affected by HIV and start protecting them from abuse.


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