DPJ lobbies for HIV-AIDS support

The Democratic Party of Japan submitted a set of requests to health minister Junichiro Koizumi on Mar. 31, demanding better treatment for people with HIV or AIDS and measures to eradicate public prejudice and discrimination against those with the human immunodeficiency virus.

DPJ coleader Naoto Kan and Satoru Ienishi, a DPJ Lower House member, met with Koizumi and demanded that the ministry quickly approve a new class of anti-AIDS drugs developed overseas. Ienishi, 36, said the number of AIDS deaths in the U.S. and Europe reportedly decreased considerably last year thanks to the drugs, called protease inhibitors.

Ienishi, a strong supporter of HIV-infected hemophiliacs who sued the government and drug makers over the distribution of HIV-tainted blood products, also said the AIDS Prevention Law, which has promoted a government policy of segregating people with HIV from communities, should be abolished. “Instead, a new law to provide welfare assistance to HIV-positive people should be enacted,” Ienishi said. “Such a law will let the public know that people with HIV or AIDS are not to be discriminated against, but to be protected.”

The DPJ also asked the minister to erect a monument to those who fell victim to the HIV fiasco to serve as a reminder of the medical disaster and to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future, he added. The set of requests was made after the plaintiffs marked the first anniversary last Mar. 29 of their victory in the seven-year legal battle.