Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government yesterday launched a simplified version of HIV anti-discrimination act to strengthen the Nigerian HIV response system geared towards stopping HIV related stigma by 2020 and elimination by 2030.
The acting Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Kayode Ogundemi, at the presentation of the simplified version of the anti-discrimination Act and official launch of the strategic documents to help in the reduction of stigmatisation and elimination of the scourge explained that the new version has become imperative given the difficulties associated with the standardised version.
Ogundemi, who was represented by the Director of partnership, Coordination and support, NACA Dr. Emmanuel Hassan, said there are several issues that drives stigma but ignorant is the basic fact that we cannot overlook.
“The simplified version of the 2014 acts has broken it down for anybody to understand and know their right when they are been violated. It also makes it easy for people to know that there are verses in the Bible and Q’uaran that supports that.
“You don’t need to discriminate against your neighbour or family or any other person in the society whether in the home or community or in the church or mosque that has HIV or is affected by HIV/AIDS.
“That is why these verses have become important because we know that most Nigerians believe in God and most Nigerians belong to either the Christian or Moslem faith,” he said.
He also said they are bringing in the religious angle because it has a lot to do with faith and we know that majority of Nigerians belong to either of these faith group and they respect and listen to their religious leaders adding that when these documents are actually interpreted into major languages across Nigeria, we are really hoping to meet the target of ending stigma by 2020 and also the overall bigger goal of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
The National Coordinator for Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPHWAN), Victor Omoshehin observed that there are lots of law in this country “but people don’t know the content explaining that the acts was signed into law since 2014 November but not many people are aware that they exists.
“Since 2014 till now, we still have lot of individuals who face stigma, rejection, even sack from work places and rejected in public health centres because of their status.
“You see people’s right being violated and denied access to healthcare and people don’t know that they can go to two years imprisonment or be jailed for violating or denying someone’s access to such services or denying someone admission or job or the right to server your fathers’ land,”
Omoshehin also stated that “launching the document is one of the beginning of the steps for people to beginning to know and internalise the use of the law adding that they will use all the mechanism to ensure that the 3.5 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS have access to these documents and then to the wider stakeholders.”