The Senate has moved to put an end to discrimination against persons living with the Human Immune Virus (HIV) in the country when it considered and passed for third reading the HIV and Aids Anti-discrimination bill that seeks to prevent HIV related stigma.
It reached the decision to so do yesterday while considering and adopting the recommendations contained in the report of the Senate Committee on Health during plenary.
The bill if passed, seeks, amongst others, to reduce the HIV burden through the prevention of discrimination and stigmatisation on the basis of real or perceived HIV status thereby encouraging voluntary testing and counseling, access to treatment, improved health outcomes and reduction of risky sex behaviours.
Also, the bill accommodates provisions which would ensure that the rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS is protected, as well as promote appropriate and effective ways of managing HIV in the workplace, community, institutions and other fields of human endeavours.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, in his presentation lamented the increasing rate of the HIV pandemic, noting that it is one of the most significant challenges to health, development and economic and social progress facing the world today.
He said: “In the countries that are worst affected, including our dear country, Nigeria the impact of HIV and AIDS have eroded decades of development gains, undermined economies and destabilise societies.”
Speaking on the bill after being passed for third reading, President of the Senate, David Mark, said: “HIV and AIDS is not something that people should be ashamed of anymore because we know it does exist, it is only better that we take care and look after those who are infected rather than discriminate against them.”