By Yakubu Uba
Yola – The Adamawa House of Assembly has commenced public hearing on a law to provide for compulsory HIV and genotype (sickle cell anaemia) test for couples before marriage.
The Speaker of the House, Alhaji Kabiru Mijinyawa, made this known at the opening ceremony of the hearing on Friday in Yola.
He said everything necessary needed to be done to contain the serious threat posed by HIV, AIDS and sickle cell anaemia to the society would be done by the legislature.
Mijinyawa reiterated the assembly’s commitment to making laws that have direct bearing on lives of the people and urged all stakeholders to contribute positively to the bill.
Also speaking at the occasion, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Fatima Abubakar, and the Executive Secretary Adamawa State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Dr Stephen John, lauded the house for the bill and assured their contribution towards its success.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that parts of the proposed bill stipulated that any couple intending to marry would be subjected to a compulsory HIV and genotype test that should be conducted in public hospitals or registered diagnostic centres one week before the marriage.
The bill also required that the certificate of the two tests should be presented to any religious institution or the clergymen of church or mosque where the wedding would be contracted.
“Any person or persons who have complied with this law in fulfillment of the requirement of the previous marriage shall not on this basis evade undergoing the test when contracting any subsequent marriage,” the proposed law stated.
Part three of the bill also made case for non-discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS and sickle cell anaemia in the state.
“Individuals, communities, employers and employees have a mutual responsibility to prevent discrimination on basis of HIV (AIDS) or Sickle Cell Anaemia in the society.
“No cultural practice or tradition shall encourage documented practices that exposé people to risk of HIV infection,” the bill said.
It further provided for a penalty of N150,000 for individuals and N500,000 for organisations or imprisonment for a period not less than one year or both for any person or institution found guilty of non-compliance with the law.
With regard to organisations, the head or representatives of the board of the organisation would be held liable, the bill said.