Mark seeks end to HIV/AIDS stigmatization

By The Citizen

Senate President David Mark on Tuesday called for an end to stigmatization and discrimination against the Human Immuno Virus (HIV) infected persons in the country.

Mark spoke while inaugurating a public hearing on a ' Bill for an Act to make provision for the prevention of HIV discrimination and to protect the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV and affected by Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other related matters,' in Abuja.

The Director- General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof.John Idoko, stated that 3.4million Nigerians are now living with the pandemic.

Idoko added that the country carries the second largest HIV burden globally.

The Senate President, who was represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, said people should be educated to know that HIV is like other common diseases which can be contacted accidentally or intentionally.

He lamented that many HIV positive people are now afraid to carry out tests or access necessary treatment as a result of negative societal behaviour.

Mark said: 'It is important for all to be educated to know that HIV is just like any other disease.

'Once it is discovered, all a sufferer needs to do is to access treatment and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

'Infected people are hiding under common diseases like diabetes because of discrimination.

'They will not tell you that they are HIV positive for fear of being discriminated against in their workplaces, family and religious organizations.

'When we lose lives because of HIV infection it means we are irresponsible. Infected people are just as important like other members of the society.

'That somebody is infected does not mean he is not good or morally upright person, or that he should be denied employment or barred from his social networks, 'he added.