Why Nigeria May Not Meet 2030 Targets

Why Nigeria May Not Meet 2030 Targets

Nigeria, like other countries of the world, is committed to achieving zero new HIV infections and ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. However, stigma and discrimination pose barriers to ending the epidemic as employment-related stigma and discrimination and other forms of discrimination persist in the country. Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, passed into law, the Anti-stigmatisation Bill in 2014.

The Act makes provisions for the prevention of HIV and AIDS-based discrimination and protects the fundamental human rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in the country. In spite of this law, discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS has continued in the country. The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) recently, decried what it described as unequal treatment of workers based on their HIV status in the workplace.

This, the agency said was a clear breach of the right of people living with the disease to gainful employment. According to the Agency, 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. “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.” said NACA. Expressing concern over the harmful effects of stigma and discrimination against individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the country, the director general of NACA, Dr Temitope Ilori, described it as significant barriers to achieving the set goals by 2030.

“Stigma and discrimination remain significant barriers to achieving our goals by 2030. We must educate and sensitize people about the harmful effects of stigma and discrimination against individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

“Our strategies must be inclusive, person-centred, and sensitive to the needs of adolescents, young people, key populations and people living with HIV/AIDS. We must also focus on community-based interventions while promoting local ownership and sustainability of our response efforts,” she said.

However, the minister of state for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, has assured of focusing on a solid foundation for improved ownership and sustainability of the HIV response in the country.

The minister, who stated this at the Nigeria HIV Prevention Conference, with the theme: “Accelerating HIV Prevention to End AIDS through Innovations and Community Engagement”, recently in Abuja, also spoke on facilitating an AIDS free generation, where no child will be born HIV positive in the country.

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