Lagos moves to raise awareness on HIV anti- stigma law

Lagos moves to raise awareness on HIV anti- stigma law

…as LSACA sensitizes journalists

Head, Project LSACA, Dr. Oladipupo Fisher at the media training workshop

In a bid to raise awareness on the state’s HIV anti-stigma law, the  Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, (LSACA) has  embarked on a campaign to inform citizens on the existence of the law .

Since the  passage of the law in May 2007, only few  Nigerians appear to be aware of its existence while no single person has been prosecuted for breaching any its provisions even as people living with HIV/AIDS continue to suffer discrimination in different forms. 

At a day training organised by LSACA to sensitize the media, Head, LSACA Project, Dr Oladipupo Fisher, regretted that many Nigerians including journalists are not aware of the law.

He said: “The media is responsible for affecting the citizenry and as such, the role of the media remains central in the effort to mitigate HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the dissemination of accurate information and awareness creation. 

“In doing so, the media, however, requires a clear understanding of the State’s HIV Ant-Stigma Law.”

Also speaking, Principal Partner, Odikpo & Associates and Executive Director, Center for Rights and Development, Barrister Josephine Ijekhuemen, said “We have cases we have done where one of the parties have come up to say they don’t want to continue with the case because his wife has threatened to commit suicide. This was despite the assurance that their testimonies will be done in such a way that their identities won’t be revealed.

“If people are prosecuted when offense is committed at work or business environment and the media projects that, then people will be afraid to discriminate and their rights will be protected.”

Speaking on the training, she said: “The message is that there’s a law in Lagos State to protect the rights of the people living with HIV/AIDS because people living with HIV are being treated differently. 

“Perhaps they don’t understand that this infection cannot be transmitted the way they thought it can be transmitted.

“These people living with HIV have suffered so much inhumane and degrading treatments as a result of their status.

“This law is meant to correct that and protect them to ensure constitutional provisions are enforced through criminal legislation. The purpose of the training is to let the members of the media know existence of them this law

“The law if adequately interpreted and effectively enforced, may go a long way in reducing incidences of stigma and discrimination by ensuring rights, protection of persons living with HIV/AIDS and person affected.

“As members of the press, having a grasp of the provison of this law will also aasist in your reportage and research when issues that affect persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS  arise.”

However, she noted that “some provisions are minimal that people can actually pay fine before commiting the offense, the law needs to be stronger in terms of language, direction, thrust and purpose.”

Speaking on why nobody has been prosecuted in the past 15 years she said: “Offense has been taking place definitely but the prosecution has been zero because even the offended is facing stigma even from the close ones.

“So, it makes it impossible for even the offenders to report and stand to fight until he/she gets justice.”

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