By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
In Nigeria, the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is threatened by employment-related discrimination against people with HIV status.
To get rid of this stigmatization, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has, therefore, called on relevant authorities to accelerate the implementation of the HIV Workplace Policy and Anti-Discrimination Law (2014).
NACA declared: “The unequal treatment of workers based on their HIV status in the workplace is a clear breach of their right to gainful employment.”
In a Press release titled: “International Worker’s Day,” NACA referred to a recent research carried out on stigmatization against people living with HIV in Nigeria. It wrote: “A 2012study of stigma among People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria showed that 26 per cent of those surveyed had lost a job or source of income in the past year due to HIV-related stigma.”
The agency stressed that managing HIV workplace discrimination and strengthening compliance to statutory anti-discrimination laws by employers and employees alike is a critical element of the HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria.
There is clearly a need to protect the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) while promoting access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support within the workplace, it stated.
The pandemic of HIV/AIDS, according to Dr. Sani Aliyu, the Director-General of NACA, has become one the most critical workplace issues in our time.
He pointed out that in addition to the epidemic’s devastating impact on women, men and their families, it affects the world of work in many ways. “People living with HIV/AIDS have a fundamental right to work just like everybody else – stigma and discrimination is a potent threat to this right and undermines opportunities for people to obtain decent employment” Aliyu said.
The NACA leader asserted that as part of the long term goal of eliminating stigma and discrimination in the workplace, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) continues to collaborate with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and other partners to ensure that employers of labour are aware of and comply with the provisions of the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS (2013) and the National HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act (2014).
He explained that the continuous engagement of relevant stakeholders has led to strengthened capacity for compliance and effective implementation of HIV workplace policies, noting that it has also built capacities on available options for addressing discrimination including redress and made available legal services for survivors of human rights violations.
“As we celebrate International Workers’ Day, we urge all the employers and employees of labour to join in the popularisation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act and the implementation of its supporting instruments including the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS and the National HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Strategy,“ the CACA chief requested.
Aliyu assured that Nigeria remains fully committed to improving the health of Nigerians and getting to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero discrimination.”