By Dipo Olowookere
A new HIV/AIDS anti-stigma law has forbidden employers across Oyo State from compelling job seekers to undergo compulsory test to determine their HIV status as a condition for being offered employment.
This is part of the highlights of the law, which was passed by the State House of Assembly and launched by the Governor, Mr Abiola Ajimobi, at the House of Chiefs, Parliament Building, Secretariat, Ibadan, on Friday.
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 bill, which was sponsored by the Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (Oyo SACA also prohibits individuals or organizations from requiring a person to take HIV test as a precondition to access to social services.
Wife of the Governor, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, who doubles as the chairperson of OYSACA was also present at the occasion, among other top government officials.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr Ajimobi said that the launch of the new law was another pace-setting effort of his administration, especially in response to the plight of the people living with the virus.
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Azeez Adeduntan, said it was the responsibility of the administration led by him to protect and preserve the lives of the citizens.
According to him, those living with the disease deserve equal government’s attention and opportunities as others who are certified healthy.
Mr Ajimobi said, “The government of Oyo State is setting another pace today (Friday) in the history of our collective response to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
“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 wellbeing 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, Mrs Ajimobi praised the efforts of the state government as well as the State House of Assembly towards the passage of the bill into law.
She enjoined those in attendance 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.
The Governor’s wife expressed the belief that the legal instrument would put a stop to incidences of stigmatization and discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
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