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1 May 2018

Implement HIV workplace policy, anti-discrimination law, NACA pleads

As parts of the activities marking the Workers’ Day, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS has called on the appropriate authorities to implement the HIV workplace policy, and anti-discrimination law.

The appeal was contained in a press release signed by the agency’s Head of Public Relations and Protocol, Mrs. Toyin Aderibigbe,

The agency noted that the HIV response in Nigeria is encumbered with cases of employment-related stigma and discrimination, which it said had continued to constitute a major threat to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The release reads in part, “The unequal treatment of workers based on their HIV status in the workplace is a clear breach of their right to gainful employment.

“A 2012 study of stigma among people living with HIV 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.”

Quoting the Director General of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu Managing, the release said 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 while promoting access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support within the workplace,” it said.

Aliyu expressed concerns that the pandemic of HIV/AIDS has become one of the most critical workplace issues in our time; adding, “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 are potent threats to this right and they undermine the opportunities for people to obtain decent employment,” Aliyu said.

As part of the long-term goal of eliminating stigma and discrimination in the workplace, NACA said it has continued to collaborate with the International Labour Organisation, 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).

“The continuous engagement of relevant stakeholders has led to strengthened capacity for compliance and effective implementation of HIV workplace policies.

“It has also built capacities on available options for addressing discrimination, including redress and made available legal services for survivors of human rights violations,” the release disclosed.

“As we celebrate International Workers’ Day, we urge all employers and employees 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.
“While we look forward to the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030, the Federal Government remains fully committed to improving the health of Nigerians and getting to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination,” Aliyu said.

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