The government of southwestern Nigeria state of Ondo has announced it has commenced the implementation and enforcement of its HIV anti-stigma law. Under the law, individuals caught spreading the virus could spend up to 10 years in jail or pay a fine of N500,000, or both.
Introducing the law to health journalists in the state capital Akure, the Secretary to the State Government and Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, noted that stigmatisation and discrimination are two major issues that are discouraging individuals infected with, living with and/or are affected by HIV from accessing health and social services.
Under the new law, he said anybody that discriminates against people living with HIV would be regarded as having committed an offence and could be liable to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment of six months or both.
Adelola said: ‘Most times, the rights of people living with HIV are violated, causing them to suffer both the burden of the disease and the consequential loss of other rights. Stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with the virus may obstruct their access to treatment and may affect their employment, housing and other rights which he said adversely affect the vulnerability of others to be infected.’
In his remark, the State Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade said the state is the first in Nigeria with a law that addresses many aspects of HIV response and will help promote public awareness about causes, modes of transmission, consequences, means of prevention, and control of HIV transmission, through a comprehensive education and information campaign.