Se­nate bans dis­crim­i­na­tion against HIV/AIDS vic­tims

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san & Ruby Leo

The Se­nate yes­ter­day passed a bill seek­ing to pre­vent the stig­ma­ti­sa­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion against people liv­ing with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

Sen­a­tors unan­i­mously ap­proved a pun­ish­ment of ei­ther two-year jail term or a max­i­mum of N1 mil­lion fine on any in­sti­tu­tion or or­gan­i­sa­tion which dis­closed the sta­tus of an in­fected per­son.

Also, any in­di­vid­ual who dis­closes the sta­tus of an in­fected per­son which he or she ob­tains in con­fi­dence shall be li­able to a fine of N500, 000 or a one-year jail term, ac­cord­ing to the new leg­is­la­tion.

Chair­man Se­nate com­mit­tee on Health Se­na­tor Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP, Delta) who spon­sored the bill said the leg­is­la­tion es­sen­tially seeks to pro­tect the hu­man rights and dig­nity of people liv­ing with HIV/AIDS.

Okowa also added that the bill is in­tended to en­cour­age those that were in­fected, to de­clare their sta­tus in a more friendly Nige­rian com­mu­nity and said with the pas­sage of the bill, the risk of trans­mis­sion will be re­duced if the bill was in­vari­ably signed to law.

The bill made it an of­fence for any em­ployer, in­sti­tu­tion, body or in­di­vid­ual to re­quest an HIV test as a pre-con­di­tion to an of­fer of em­ploy­ment and ac­cess to pub­lic/pri­vate ser­vices or op­por­tu­ni­ties.

It fur­ther made it an of­fence for any ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion, pri­vate or pub­lic, to de­mand HIV / AIDS test­ing as part of its rou­tine med­i­cal test­ing re­quire­ments for ad­mis­sion or ac­cred­i­ta­tion of learn­ers.

The bill fur­ther stip­u­lates that ev­ery per­son liv­ing HIV / AIDS shall be as­sured of free­dom from un­law­ful ter­mi­na­tion of his or her em­ploy­ment by rea­son of his or her sta­tus.

Mean­while, the Se­nate has also con­firmed the ap­point­ment of Mr. Em­manuel Olu­sanya and Al­haji Shet­tima Umar Gana as mem­bers of the Rev­enue Mo­bi­liza­tion and Fis­cal Al­lo­ca­tion Com­mis­sion.

The Sen­a­tors have ad­journed ple­nary ses­sions for the Easter break to re­sume on April 29th.

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