Zero Discrimination Day: NACA Calls on Nigerians to End Stigmatisation of PLWHA

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Martins Ifijeh

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS, (NACA) has called on Nigerians at all levels to end discrimination of Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the country.

Stating this in a message to mark the 2019 Zero Discrimination Day, the Director General, NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu says discrimination of PLWHA was an offence in Nigeria with the passage of the 2014 N ational HIV and AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act, hence the need for awareness.

The DG said “The Act makes it an offence to discriminate on the basis of one’s real or perceived HIV status. It also prohibits any employer, individual or organization from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services.

“I urge Nigerians to take advantage of the 2014 Anti-Discrimination Act to know their rights and protect themselves from all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

“Legal protection against HIV-related discrimination is an essential prerequisite for an effective national HIV response. The lack of protective law enforcement and the existence of punitive laws can feed stigma and discrimination and hinder access to HIV services for people living with HIV.”

He said discrimination can be institutionalised through existing laws, policies and practices that negatively target people living with HIV and marginalised groups, adding that stigma and discrimination occur in different forms and may not necessarily be a deliberate or conscious action.

He said since 2014, the day has been commemorated annually on March 1, as it is a global event that promotes diversity and recognises that everyone counts.