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UN commends Nigeria’s assent to zero discrimination law

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THE United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has commended Nigeria, and President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Anti Discrimination Law which protects persons living with HIV and AIDS against discrimination and stigmatization.

In a statement issued by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) to commemorate Sunday’s Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS commended Nigeria’s commitment to ending stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV.

UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for ECOWAS, Dr. Bilali Camara was quoted in the statement to have said, “I would like to thank the National Assembly for crafting the humanly sensitive bill and President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Anti-Discrimination law. This law is a big boost to improving Nigeria’s AIDS response because it gives back human rights and dignity to people living with or affected by HIV and ensures that the country ends the AIDS epidemic by 2030”.

With the signing into law of the bill, it becomes illegal for employers of labour to either subject prospective employees to HIV tests or to discriminate against employees who are living with the virus.

“It is hoped that the new law will create a more supportive environment, allowing people living with and affected by HIV to carry on their lives as normally as possible in the society and the work places’, UNIC spokesman, Oluseyi Shoremekun said in the statement.

Nigeria has more than three million people living with HIV though the country has made great strides in its AIDS response in the past five years. The number of HIV infections in Nigeria declined by 35 per cent and the country is now pursuing efforts to stop new infections altogether. The number of sites providing services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV has increased from 675 in 2010 to 5,622 in 2013.

Also, UNAIDS is working with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and other  authorities to ensure that anyone living with HIV receives treatment, care and support services in dignity.

The statement quoted Dr. Camara as urging religious and traditional leaders to add their trusted voices to the call for more compassion, tolerance and peace for people living with or affected by HIV in Nigeria. “With this new Anti-Discrimination law, I am confident that Nigeria will be able to accelerate the AIDS response dramatically in the coming months”, he said.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners to maximize results for the AIDS response.



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