Kogi Assembly, CSO Partner on HIV/AIDS Anti-stigma Legislation

Kogi State House of Assembly has assured that the bill for a Law to provide for the prevention of

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Kogi Assembly, CSO Partner on HIV/AIDS Anti-stigma Legislation

Kogi State House of Assembly has assured that the bill for a Law to provide for the prevention of HIV and AIDS Based Discrimination and stigmatization will be accorded smooth and accelerated passage for full implementation in the state.


Rt Hon. Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba, Deputy Speaker of the House, disclosed this at a One-day Capacity Building And Media Round Table on the Proposed Anti-stigma Bill For HIV With Kogi State Assembly members.


She said that the partnership between the House and Initiative for Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), a Civil Society Organization (CSO), had yielded fruits with the resounding support of members for the bill.


Our Kogi State Correspondent, reports that the meeting, was aimed at building capacity of Kogi State Assembly members and Media personalities on the issue of HIV stigma and discrimination among others, was organized by Initiative for Grassroot Advancement in Nigeria, (INGRA) with support from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Lokoja.


The Deputy Speaker said that the private member Bill before the House had had its first and second readings and was being primed for Public Hearing and Third Reading by the House Committees on Health and Judiciary.


Nwuchiola-Egwaba said, "We have done more than justice to the Bill. This bill will scale through and will see the light of day. We are not living any stone unturned. We are doing this for our people."


Also speaking, sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Bin Ebaiya Shehu-Tijjani (APC-Lokoja I) thanked his colleagues for the fervour with which they rallied support for the Bill to scale through the legislative mills and urged them to sustain the tempo until it is finally passed and assented to by the governor.


Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Ochidi Usman (APC-Idah) decried the spate of discrimination and stigmatization against people living with the virus saying that they did not bargain for it.


He described Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLWHA) as victims of circumstances as he thanked the sponsor of the Bill and pledged to stand by him to provide support for the Bill to have accelerated passage.


Speaking earlier, Mr Hamza Aliyu Executive Director, INGRA, who described the bill as a "Policy Bill" said it was not just for HIV/AIDS alone but against every form of discrimination and stigmatization against affected persons in the state.


He hinted that available statistics showed that over 28,000 persons live with the virus in the state adding that the number could be more as many who are not aware of their status are quite unwilling to get tested for fear of discrimination and stigmatization.


Aliyu said the Bill had been passed in 16 states of the Federation and would only be fair for the it to be adopted in Kogi through the legislation, to ensure that affected persons are not unnecessarily discriminated against.


Executive Secretary, Kogi State Agency for the Control of AIDS (KOSACA), Dr Sheidu Yunusa, who explained some of the provisions of the law, offences and punishment in the bill said stigmatization and discrimination had the potency to destroy all the efforts being made to end the HIV scourge in the Country.


Dr Yunusa gave examples of stigmatization and discrimination against Persons Living with HIV (PL-HIV) to include health care professionals refusing to provide care or services to an affected person, refusing casual contact with someone living with HIV.


It also includes among others, socially isolating a member of a community on account of HIV positive status; referring to people as HiVers or Positives and Unlawful disclosure of an affected person's status. 


Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairperson, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) said, "we should not see this law as draconian but an attempt to squelch discrimination against our affected brothers and sisters."


Comrade Jimoh Audu, the Kogi State Coordinator of Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLWHA) commended INGRA and the House of Assembly for their determination to get the Bill passed.


"We appreciate the meeting of our leaders, we believe in you. All we are asking it to reduce to the barest minimum the issue of discrimination against us. The medical practitioners should be more professional in their conduct", he said.

Copyright: Fresh Angle International (www.freshangleng.com)
ISSN 2354 - 4104

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Odimayo Olatunde Frederick
graduate of Mass Communication and Kogi State Correspondent of Fresh Angle International Newspaper
Read other stories by Odimayo Olatunde Frederick

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