The Senate passed yesterday a Bill to prevent stigmatisation of and discrimination against those living with or affected by the Human Immuno-Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Nigeria.
It approved a two-year jail term or a maximum of N1 million fine against any institution or organisation that discloses the status of an infected person.
The Bill stipulates a N500,000 fine for any individual who discloses the status of an infected person, which he or she may have obtained in confidence.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta North), said the Bill would protect the rights and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Okowa noted that the Bill would also encourage those infected, to declare their HIV status in a more friendly Nigerian community.
The lawmaker expressed confidence that the risk of transmission would be greatly reduced when the Bill is signed into law.
Besides, the Bill makes it an offence for any employer, institution, body or individual to require an HIV test as a pre-condition to offer employment, access to public/private services or opportunities.
It makes it punishable for any educational institution – private or public – to demand HIV/AIDS test as part of its routine medical requirements for admission or accreditation of students.