NACA Unveils Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Law
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS has unveiled a popular version of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti Discrimination Act 2014 to avail more people a chance to understand and utilise the Law.
Prof. John Idoko, the Director-General of NACA, while unveiling the law in Abuja on Wednesday, said the popular version was prepared in collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Idoko said the popular version of the law consists of lay terms and graphic illustration that will make the law more useful in both rural and grassroots community settings.
He said Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world with an anti-discrimination law related to HIV/AIDS. According to Idoko, making a popular version of this law available will result in increased demand for testing services and improved quality of life for people living with HIV in Nigeria. He said: “The law makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their HIV status.
“It also prohibits any employer, individual or organisation from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services. “I hope that the law will create a more supportive environment, allowing people living with and affected by HIV to carry on their lives normally in their communities and at their work places.”
Dr. Adebayo Towolawi, the Country Programme Manager of AHF, said the need for the implementation is to ensure accessibility and implementation for the general populace and for the benefit of people living with HIV/AIDS. Towolawi said this will set precedence for more laws to be simplified in the country and for more orientation to be carried out. Dr. Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director and UNAIDS focal person for ECOWAS, said zero discrimination remains at the heart of ending AIDS by 2030. “This popular version of the anti-discrimination Act 2014 will support the zero discrimination targets directly,” Camara said.
He added that the UNAIDS is also working in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission and a coalition of lawyers on human rights. Camara said the coalition provides free legal services to people living with HIV/AIDS whose rights are infringed. Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Secretary of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, appreciated the government for the passage of the bill that respects the dignity of their members. Ibrahim said: “The law will go a long way in ensuring the rights and dignity of our members is fully respected.
“Presently, because of stigma and discrimination, many people living with HIV/AIDS are finding it difficult to access treatment, especially in rural areas.
“NACA assisted us with many copies of this law.
“We have disseminated it to state chapters of the network and we are working with the state chapters to domesticate the law.”
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act was passed by the National Assembly in 2014. The law was assented by former President Goodluck Jonathan on November 27, 2014.
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