From BAMIGBOLA GBOLAGUNTE, Akure
Ondo State Government has read out the riot act to HIV/AIDS patients in the state, declaring that any individual, who spread the disease within the state, will be jailed.
The government said the decision was in line with the existing HIV/AIDS Anti-stigma Law, which prescribed a 10-year jail term and a fine of N500,000 or both, for any person who by whatever means transmitted HIV/AIDS to another person.
Giving details of the law, which was signed last year, the Secretary to the State Government and Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (OSACA), Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, said stigmatization and discrimination could discourage individuals infected with HIV virus.
He stated that anybody, who discriminated against people living with HIV committed an offence and was liable to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment of six months or both.
Adelola, who spoke during a sensitization programmes organized by OSACA in Akure, said: “Most times, the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are violated, causing them to suffer the burden of the disease and the consequential loss of other rights.”
He stated that stigmatization and discrimination of people living with the virus may obstruct their access to treatment and also affect their employment, housing and other rights, which he said adversely, affected the vulnerability of others to be infected.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, said Ondo was the first state in the country to have a law that addressed many aspects of HIV/AIDS.
He said the law would help reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS transmission in the state just as he noted that the law would prevent transmission of the disease.
He added that the law would also guarantee protection of human rights and civil liberties for HIV/AIDS patients in the state.
“It has become an offence in Ondo Sate to have any form of discrimination against a person infected with HIV/AIDS virus in the case of employment, medical treatment, hiring, assignment, promotion, demotion, transfer, retirement, among others.”
“No educational institution in the state shall refuse admission, expel, discipline, segregate, and deny any pupil or prospective student right to any of his rights following perceived HIV.