Implement Anti-Stigma Law for HIV/AIDS,Group Urges Kaduna Govt

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The Network of People With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has called for the review and effective implementation of the anti-stigma and discrimination law in Kaduna State.
National Coordinator, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, made the call in Kaduna at a sensitisation workshop on a survey conducted by NEPWHAN in collaboration with the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (NACA) across seven states of the country.

The workshop was organised to increase awareness and sensitise the people of Kaduna State to the anti-discrimination law and the recently launched National Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS.

Represented by Secretary of the Network, Mr Nicholas Ugbeunyen, the national coordinator said 21 states had domesticated the law and were effectively implementing it, while fifteen states are yet to commence implementation of the law.

The survey, which was carried out two years ago, revealed that North Central states had the highest proportion of people being stigmatised due to their HIV status.
‘‘We are here today for a workshop which is aimed at raising awareness of the HIV/ Aids anti-discrimination act in the state.”

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The HIV and AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act, 2014 focuses on critical aspects including rights of individuals, individual/organisational responsibilities, institutional obligations, acts that amount to discrimination,
enforcement and penalties for violations.
He added that the purpose of the act was to protect the rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

”This act is important because it helps in eliminating all forms of discrimination based on HIV status, creating a supportive environment so that people living with HIV are able to continue working under normal conditions as long as they are medically fit. The act will promote appropriate and effective ways of managing HIV in the workplace, community, institutions and other fields of human endeavour, create a safe and enabling working and learning environment for all persons. The law did not leave out all employers of labour and employees in the public and private sectors, including the Nigerian Armed Forces, Nigeria Police, State Security Services, other para-military organizations and places of worship.”

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He said some of the rights enshrined in the act included right to freedom from discrimination because of your HIV status, right to access employment opportunities and continued employment ay the right to employment benefits.
Winifred Atusue of the National Human Rights Commission said there was need for increased awareness on the rights of PLHIV and available redress options.

“Members of the network are, therefore, encouraged to present complaints on human rights violations relating to HIV/AIDS to the commission across its state offices.”
According to her, UNAIDS Global HIV record as 36.3 million people dead from AIDS between the start of the epidemic and the end of 2020.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a strong health, development and human rights issue. To create an enabling environment for successful HIV/AIDS response and to affirm the dignity of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, it is essential that a human rights-based approach is applied by stakeholders at all levels. This approach requires that the promotion and protection of human rights is at the centre of all aspects of an effective response to the epidemic.”
Kaduna State Coordinator of People Living with With HIV/Aids, Bala Ismail -Ibn Ali, said the anti-stigma and discrimination law was domesticated in 2011 but had since remained dormant.

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He said it needed to be reviewed, to assist the people being stigmatised. The survey conducted by the Network in collaboration with NACA indicates that women experienced the worst form of stigma and discrimination over HIV and Aids.

Mrs Asabe Madaki, coordinator of Women Living with HIV/ AIDS, said women affected faced divorce and separation from their children.

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