As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark 2018 International Workers Day, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has called on employees and employers of labour to push for the implementation of National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act, and the National HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Strategy.
In a statement made available to THISDAY, and signed by the Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, he said HIV response in Nigeria has been encumbered with cases of employment-related stigma and discrimination, which has continued to constitute a major threat to the goal of ending AIDS epidemic by 2030.
He said: “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 (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.
“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 PLHIV while promoting access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support within the workplace,” he noted.
According to him, people living with HIV/AIDS have a fundamental right to work just like everybody else, adding that stigma and discrimination has become a potent threat that undermines opportunities for people to obtain decent employment.
“As part of the long term goal of eliminating stigma and discrimination in the workplace, 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).
“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.”
He said while NACA looks forward to the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030, the Nigerian Government remains fully committed to improving the health of Nigerians and getting to zero new HIV infection and discrimination.