By Omolara Omosanya &Yesirat Abiola
A review of the Lagos State HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Law has been canvassed to make the law justiciable.
A human rights defender, Mrs Josephine Ijekhuemen gave the advice in Ikeja during the sensitization of newsmen on the Lagos HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Law.
The sensitization of journalists was part of efforts to optimize HIV service delivery in Lagos State which is one of the Seven States in the Country requiring special attention.
Discussing every sections of the law with journalists selected from both mainstream and new media during the forum, Mrs Ijekhuemen pointed out that though the law has been tested, but
there has been no single case of conviction.
The legal practitioner who has been in the forefront of the HIV/AIDS advocacy noted that when amended, especially the stipulated sanctions, the law would be enforceable and people who are stigmatized would be encouraged to report.
“Because of the stigma that has gone on so much terribly in the society, they are afraid to come out because at the end of the day, they might not get justice and when they come.out and their identity and status is known, the way they are treated in the workplace, religious settings, families and the way they are subjected to inhuman and cruel degrading treatment, that is the reason prosecution has been difficult” she said
Taking participants through LSACA’s efforts to reduce the burden of the disease through a multi sectoral approach, the Head, Projects at the agency, Dr Oladipupo Fisher said that the gap of sixty thousand identified in 2018 in the HIV/AIDs Indicator Impact Survey, NAIIS, had been closed through the surge intervention, a part of the State’s five year strategic plan.
Dr Fisher explained that the focus is now on the youth population to prevent new infection and reduce the disease burden.
“We are targeting interventions around the youths to increase their knowledge and increase their uptake of HIV testing, we work with the Ministry of Youths and Social Development, at the thirty one Youths Centres, we provide access to oral self testing kits, condoms, and other material to them for the Youths to actually know their status at their own convenience and then of course, the Government also sponsor the social media content designing and campaign for HIV prevention and there’s toll free line 6222, for those who need more information, counselling and directions about HIV, so these have gone a long way in increasing awareness”
He said both pre and post exposure treatment are available across the State and urged both residents and visitors to Lagos to undergo test to know their HIV status.