We can curtail stigma, discrimination against HIV-positive personsNACA
By Ikenna Osuoha

The National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) said on Monday in Abuja that it has the capacity and partnership to address stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV.

Dr Yinka Falola-Anoemuah, a Deputy Director in NACA, said this during a meeting organised by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in collaboration with NACA themed: Nigeria HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination law, the journey so far, at the twitter space.

She said NACA would partner with institutions including National Human Rights Commission, law enforcement agencies, ministries of ministry of education and women affairs to advance the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Falola-Anoemuah who is the Deputy Director, Lead Gender, Human Right and Care Services, NACA, said the institutions were properly equipped to partner NACA in dealing with issues around stigma and discrimination.

NACA also has a multi-institutional platform for work place policies around HIV, which also addresses stigma and discrimination within the work place, she said.

The deputy director blamed persistence of discrimination on ignorance about HIV/AIDS.

Falola-Anoemuah, therefore, called for closer collaboration among all relevant stakeholders to enforce the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Ms Kemi Gbadamosi, Director, Advocacy, Policy and Marketing, AHF-Africa, urged the Federal Government to enforce the HIV anti-discrimination law to uphold the dignity and rights of persons living with HIV.

In 2014 Nigeria enacted the Anti-discrimination law to end stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS.

Gbadamosi said it was unfortunate that with the discovery of antiretroviral drugs, a segment of the society no longer consider HIV as a life-threatening health challenge.

However, new cases of infection are still recorded especially among the younger generation who are still faced with stigma and discrimination both at school and in their communities, she said.

The director said there was the need to increase awareness on the rights of persons living with HIV through the media as well as engaging the grassroots.

Mr Michael Okoh, Programme Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN) said the Network in 2021 conducted HIV stigma and discrimination survey with over 1,240 respondents.

Okoh said the survey was conducted in 16 states of the federation, including the FCT where about 1 in 4 respondents saying their status was disclosed without their consent.

This, the respondents, said made them to encounter different levels of stigma and discrimination at their work places and homes.

Mr Rommy Mom, President Lawyers Alert, said that not much has been achieved in regards to the implementation and enforcement of HIV anti-discrimination law in the country.

Mom said the office of the Attorney General of the Federation could do more to in ensuring that the law is enforced.

Lack of enforcement of the law has been a motivation for people and institutions to stigmatise persons living with HIV.

Both the public and private institutions are violating the laws because consequences are not meted out on violators.

Laws are therefore not the issue, but the enforcement, issues exist and that is why the laws are passed, he said.

Mr Steve Aborisade, Manager, Advocacy and Marketing, AHF, called for increased advocacy on stigma and discrimination among the public and institutions through the media.

He said AHF would continue to partner with other stakeholders to advance the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS in the country.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Uche Anunne

Source: NAN News