Oyo government criminalises stigmatisation against people living with HIV/AIDs

Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi

Employers across Oyo State have been barred from compelling job seekers to undergo HIV test as a condition for being offered employment, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

Yomi Layinka, media aide to governor Abiola Ajimobi, made this known in a statement on Sunday.

According to Mr. Layinka, the declaration is part of the highlights of a new HIV/AIDS anti-stigma law passed by the State House of Assembly.

The law was launched by Mr. Ajimobi on Friday at the House of Chiefs, Parliament Building, Secretariat, Ibadan, the statement added.

“It has thus become a criminal offence for anyone or institution in the state to deny people living with HIV/AIDS their or due benefits as a result of their status,” the statement said.

The bill, which was sponsored by the Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (Oyo SACA) also prohibits individuals or organisations from requiring a person to take HIV test as a precondition to access social services.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Ajimobi said the launch of the new law was another pace-setting effort of his administration, especially in response to the plight of people living with the virus.

The governor, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Azeez Adeduntan, said it was the responsibility of the administration to protect and preserve the lives of the citizens.
He added that those living with the disease deserve equal attention of government and opportunities as others.

“The government of Oyo State is setting another pace today in the history of our collective response to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS,” Mr. Ajimobi said.

“As a government, we owe it a duty and responsibility to protect and preserve the lives of every citizen of Oyo State and its dwellers, and to ensure that the well-being of everybody, irrespective of social and economic status, is taken care of.

“The mere fact that an individual is infected with HIV does not render such individual less human. HIV is no longer a death sentence. We shall make it a duty to protect them and provide the same social service to them like those certified to be healthy.”

In her remarks, the wife of the governor who is also chairperson of OYSACA, Florence Ajimobi, praised the efforts of the state government as well as the State House of Assembly in the passage of the bill into law.

Mrs. Ajimobi, however, enjoined people across the state to give the law the deserved awareness and publicity so that people would be aware of its existence and consequently accept people living with the virus and treat them with respect and dignity.

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