Finally, Nigeria has joined the list of nations with a HIV anti-discrimination law. The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination ACT 2014; an action that is not only commendable but also reveals the government’s commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.
The journey to have a legislation which protects the rights and dignity of persons living with and those affected by HIV in Nigeria started as far back as 2005 and after about 9 long years, persons living with HIV now have a legal tool to address issues of stigma and discrimination across the country. The benefits of having a HIV anti-discrimination law in place cannot be overemphasized, as it would aid the reduction and possible elimination of discrimination against persons living with HIV in workplaces, Schools, health facilities and other places of association.
This law could not have come at a better time, in an era where treatment challenges in Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS response seems to be snowballing. This is indeed a silver lining for about 3.4 million people living with HIV in Nigeria and hopefully will encourage more people to access treatment , without fear of being stigmatized.
Beyond the signing of the law, now more than ever there is the need to educate people at all levels on its provisions. Furthermore, it is very imperative for organizations to work together in ensuring that the law is implemented fully. We also hope that this will spur more states in Nigeria to have a HIV anti-discrimination law, towing the path of states like Lagos, Benue, Nasarawa etc.
To the Civil society organizations; most notably the network of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, stakeholders, government agencies, partners, activists and non-governmental organizations who have tirelessly lobbied for the signing of the law over the past years, we say KUDOS to you!
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