‘Spread HIV in Ondo, go to jail for 10 years’

Mutated-Strain-of-HIV-that-Leads-to-AIDS-within-3-Yrs-Found-in-CubaWITH commencement of implementation of Ondo State government’s HIV Anti-stigma Law, a 10-year jail term, fine of N500,000 or both awaits anyone, who transmits the virus to another person.

Giving details of the law which was signed last year, the Secretary to the State Government, Aderotimi Adelola, stated that  the stigmatisation and discrimination discourages individuals infected with and affected by HIV from accessing health and social services, hence, the law stipulates further that  anybody who discriminates against people living with disease commits an offence and is liable to fine of N100,000.00 or imprisonment of six months or both.

Adelola, who is also the chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, spoke in Akure yesterday, while delivering a keynote address at a sensitisation programme to facilitate and ensure the enforcement of a law for the prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, elimination of discrimination and stigmatization of people living with the virus and “other matters incidental thereto or connected therewith.”

Adelola said most times the rights of people living with HIV are violated, causing them to suffer both the burden of the disease and the consequential loss of other rights.

Adelola stated that stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with the virus may obstruct their access to treatment and may affect their employment, housing and other rights which he said adversely affect the vulnerability of others to be infected.

Also speaking on the law, the state Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade said Ondo  is the  first state in the federation to have a law, which addresses many aspect of HIV response to law and will help promote public awareness about causes, modes of transmission, consequences, means of prevention and control of HIV transmission, through a comprehensive education and information campaign.

He added that the law  is also  expected to extend to every person infected with HIV full protection of his human rights and civil liberties, positively address and seek to eradicate conditions that aggravate the spread of HIV infection, including but not limited to poverty, marginalization, prostitution, marginalisation, drug abuse and ignorance; while it will promote utmost safety and universal precautions in practices and procedures that carry the risk of HIV transmission.

A call was thus made to health professionals, employers and other custodian of medical records to strictly observe the confidentiality in the handling of all medical information, particularly the identity and status of people living with HIV, even as infected persons have been urged to declare their status to their spouse or sexual partners, children and parents.

It was also registered that it has become an offence in the state to have any form of discrimination against a person infected with the virus in the case of employment, medical treatment, hiring, assignment, promotion, demotion, transfer, retirement, among others, maintaining that no educational institution in the state shall refuse admission, expel, discipline, segregate, deny any pupil or prospective student right to any of his rights following perceived HIV status.

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