23 May 2013

Nigeria: Non-Passage of Anti-Stigma Bill Killing HIV/Aids Victims

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Signs promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in Ngoma School, Sikaneka village, Maamba district, Zambia.

Over 500 members of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN) yesterday stormed the National Assembly to protest the non passage of the HIV/AIDS anti discrimination bill into law.

President of NEPWHAN Edward Ogenyi who was received at the gate by Senator Wilson Ake on behalf of the Senate president said stigmatization has made living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria quite challenging and hindered people from accessing services to save their lives.

The bill, presently pending before the Senate, has been at the National Assembly for the past eight years. Ogenyi said Nigeria is presently the only country without the anti AIDS-related stigma and discrimination law.

"Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria has been challenging due to lack of access to treatment, stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and lack of enabling environment such as HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination law that would guide against discrimination or violation of rights based on real or perceived HIV status," he said.

Responding, Senator Ake said the bill will be given priority, saying issues of bill passage are a slow process of legislation so that mistake would not be made.

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