ZERO DISCRIMINATION DAY; PROTECTION AGAINST HIV-RELATED DISCRIMINATION
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA wishes to join the rest of the world to commemorate 2019 Zero Discrimination Day, as NACA continues to advocate for the protection of Nigerians against HIV-Related Discrimination at all levels in the country.
“Stigma and discrimination is an affront to human rights and puts the lives of people living with HIV and key populations in danger.” Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, 2017. Since 2014, the Zero Discrimination Day has been commemorated annually on the 1st of March. It is a global event that promotes diversity and recognizes that everyone counts. In 2019, UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action against discriminatory laws.
Discrimination can be institutionalized through existing laws, policies and practices that negatively target people living with HIV and marginalized groups. Stigma and discrimination happen in different forms and in numerous places and can be executed consciously and unconsciously.
The Director General of NACA, said on non-discrimination in the context of HIV, educating people about relevant rights and laws such as Nigeria’s 2014 national HIV and AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act is important. The DG said ‘’The Act makes it an offence to discriminate on the basis of one’s real or perceived HIV status. It also prohibits any employer, individual or organization from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services’’ he urged Nigerians take advantage of 2014 Anti-Discrimination Act to protect themselves from all sorts of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Legal protection against HIV-related discrimination is an essential prerequisite for an effective national HIV response. The lack of protective legislation and/or its enforcement and the existence of punitive laws and punitive law enforcement can feed stigma and discrimination and hinder access to HIV services for people living with HIV.