The Lagos Chapter of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has appealed to the National Assembly to enact a law to protect patients against discrimination and stigmatisation.
Mr Peter Obialor, the group Coordinator, who made the plea on Tuesday in Lagos, said there will be hope and a sense of belonging to us all if the legislators allow the law to become a reality.
“I am pleading with our lawmakers at the National Assembly to come up with a law that will protect and guide People living with HIV (PLHIV) against every form of stigmatisation and discrimination. After the National Assembly has made the law, State Assemblies can domesticate it so that the implementation will be effective and taken seriously in the country. Currently, many children have stopped going to school because of stigmatisation and discrimination,” Obialor said.
He urged governments to also organise scholarship programmes for children facing this condition.
He said: “governments should grant scholarship to youths living with HIV and also come up with empowerment programmes for Orphans and Vulnerable children that their parents died due to HIV”.
He commended the Lagos State Government on efforts done to ensure the state Assembly passed a bill that would stop stigmatisation of HIV persons.
He decried the situation that PLHIV were being sacked from work.
He said: “the increasing stigma on people living with HIV is something very disheartening and has got to even work places. When a company or organisation finds out that you are PLHIV, you are finished because you are going to be relieved of your work. One thing people should know is that HIV is not a sickness that kills faster like malaria does, it is the fear that kills. Also, HIV cannot be transmitted through eye contact nor touching, it can be acquired through sex and sharing an infected sharp objects,” he said.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the largest number of PLHIV.