Abuja - More than 3,4 million Nigerians are living with HIV/Aids, the country with the second highest rate of the disease in the world, after South Africa.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Professor John Idoko, disclosed the statistics during the opening of public hearing on the “Bill for an Act to make Provision for the Prevention of HIV Discrimination."
The instrument also seeks to protect the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV/Aids and other related matters.
David Mark, Senator for Benue city, bemoaned the discrimination of infected people.
“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," he said.
“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 organisations.
“When we lose lives because of HIV infection it means we are irresponsible. Infected people are just as important as other members of the society.
"That somebody is infected does not mean he is not good or a moral person, or that he should be denied employment or barred from his social networks,
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, noted that the HIV pandemic is one of the major challenges confronting health, development, economy and social progress in today’s world.
“In the countries that are worst affected, including our dear country Nigeria, the impact of HIV/ AIDS has eroded decades of development goals and gains, curbing economic growth and destabilising societies," he said.
- CAJ News