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Fiji Time: 9:50 PM on Friday 22 August

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Alarm on AIDS

Maciu Malo
Monday, December 10, 2012

CONCERNS have been raised on the increasing number of people infected with AIDS in the Western Division.

This, after reports that four people died from the deadly disease and 11 new cases recorded in the west so far this year.

Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki said people in the west should ensure that no one was infected with HIV from this day forward.

He said in order to achieve that, it was imperative that people understood how AIDS could be prevented.

"To prevent HIV infections we must understand how we can get HIV infections in the first place," said Cdr Cawaki.

"The three main ways that people get infected with HIV are — sexual transmission; from infected blood, and from a mother to her child.

"Almost all the cases of HIV we have in Fiji have been spread through sexual transmission. In order to prevent transmission of HIV in Fiji, one of the major challenges we face is behaviour change towards safe sexual practices."

Cdr Cawaki said the issue should be discussed openly with family members and people should work together to fight the disease.

"We all know that topics related to sex are mostly taboo in our culture but it's time we came out of the shadows and attempt to discuss these matters comprehensively," he said.

"We in Fiji are into the fourth decade of HIV infection, and unless we all take ownership of this growing problem now, we could face an epidemic in the near future, especially with our very mobile population, and us being a thriving tourist destination."

Cdr Cawaki said it was possible to achieve the aim of zero new HIV infections but that it would be a challenge.

"I urge political leaders, health officials, community leaders, guardians and parents to speak up about and take action on ending the spread of HIV," he said.

"I plead with the people living with HIV to do the right thing — seek medical help as soon as possible, take your medication consistently, and practise safe sex to prevent the spread of HIV."


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