Aids Commission wants harmful laws scratched
By Bridgett Milton
As Liberia observes Zero Discrimination Day, the National Aids Commission is calling on the Liberian Legislature to remove l harmful laws and create empowerment for Liberians.
Speaking in a news conference Tuesday, March 1, 2022, the Vice Commissioner for Decentralization and Policy, Lewis Wright, said this year’s commemoration is under the Global Theme: “Remove laws that harm, create laws that empower”.
He says the National AIDS Commission agrees with the theme and joins the United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in highlighting the urgent need for action against discriminatory laws.
“This is important because discrimination continues to undermine national effort to address the impacts of HIV-related rights and other public health issues”, Mr. Wright adds.
He notes that since the emergence of HIV in Liberia in 1986, persons living with the virus, including key populations and vulnerable groups, have suffered from discrimination in their quest to seek care, treatment and live freely in society.
Wright explains that discrimination has largely been responsible for most of the wrong things experienced in controlling and managing HIV, so it is now time for all stakeholders to consolidate efforts.
“Dealing with discrimination will mean that Liberia as a member of the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate All Forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, must take concrete and committed actions”, he underscores.
The Country Director of UNAIDS, Pepukai Chikukwa, says this year’s Zero Discrimination Day highlights the urgent need to take action against discriminatory laws in the country.
“The law can be [a] powerful force for good but it can also be a powerful force for bad, to stop discrimination, the law must be on the side of good”, Madam Chikukwa adds.
For her part, the Chairperson of NAC, Theodosia Slewion Kolee notes that discrimination continues to undermine reduction of the rate of HIV cases, adding that it is now time for all stakeholders to take concrete action.
She says to end discrimination in Liberia there should be no new HIV-related discriminatory laws, and that all existing HIV-related discriminatory laws, regulations and policies on the book are repealed.
She adds the commission remains persistent and definite in order to translate commitments into measurable policy change and programmatic interventions that would result in the enjoyment of HIV-related rights by all, and that Liberia needs to scale up HIV treatment to reach the 95-95-95-level for persons living with HIV.