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Hepatitis B and employment in Nigeria

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Hepatitis B and employment in Nigeria

Good evening all. So I decided to talk about this very sensitive topic about hepatitis b and employment today. This is following numerous messages I have concerning how some institutions, corporations and business establishments in have denied persons living with hepatitis b or persons living with HIV.

In 2018, a young man told me he was denied placement in the Nigerian military because his medical screening test revealed that he was hepatitis B positive….Also there are many stories of persons getting sacked or losing their jobs because they are hepatitis b positive or because they are hepatitis c positive or HIV positive. Have you not heard?

Yes, there are over 20 million Nigerians living with chronic hepatitis b virus according to the World Health Organization. This is crazy . Hepatitis b is a very contagious disease.. It can be sexually transmitted, can be transmitted during blood transfusion, tattooing, kissing, needle pricks and coming in contact with blood and body fluids of infected persons. Hepatitis b virus can cause liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, and liver failure. It is not curable but the progression can be slowed down with drugs.

Hepatitis B and employment in Nigeria

Now… back to the main issue I want to discuss.. It is unconditional to deny a person employment or to sack and employee because he or she is hepatitis b or Hepatitis C or HIV positive. This is against Nigerian labour Law and international labour laws. This is to say, that you are hepatitis b positive does not mean that you should be denied of a job employment if your genuinely pass the interview…. Neither should you be sakes from your place of work because your status shows your are hepatitis b positive. Such behaviour is perceived by the Nigerian law as discriminatory and you will win your employer you seek redress in court of law.

READ ALSO: Workplace policy for HIV

In an interview he granted to PUNCH, the DG of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, in 2019, spoke about the discrimination people living with HIV and persons living with hepatitis b face at school, place work and in the society.

In his words:

“We in NACA will definitely not tolerate stigma and discrimination. We have done a lot of work with in the recent past with people living with HIV and also people living with hepatitis B who had issues with their employers.”

“We have supported them with legal persons.We have also been working on some schools because there are children living with HIV that are been prevented from accessing schools. That is unacceptable. Certainly, if we are aware of anybody who has been discriminated against, where employers are making HIV test or hepatitis b test, a condition for employment, it is illegal. There are certain categories of jobs which a person can be made to undergo such testing.”

“In Medicine for example, you will not be allowed to do exposure prone procedures if you have HIV or hepatitis B or C unless you have a suppressed viral load and you have been tested over and over again. That is different. But if you are a driver, if you are a desk officer or an administrator, what is the business of your employer with your HIV or hepatitis B status? We will definitely make an example of employers that we know are trying to continue with this trend because it is unacceptable.”

“You are dealing with human beings and everybody has right to life, to family and employment and having HIV or hepatitis B or C does not make you less human. I call on schools and employers of labour to know that there is a law against discrimination and if they flout that law, we will support the employee in taking them to court and make sure they get the justice they deserve.”

In summary, stop the discrimination against people living with hepatitis B. They are employable. Employers and employees should take note.

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