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Bleak hunch

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, December 15, 2012

HIV and AIDS numbers could most probably increase by the end of this month.

This was revealed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at the launch of Fiji's Inter-Faith Strategy on HIV and AIDS and The Pacific Guide on Responding to HIV for Christian Ministers, Pastors and Communities.

As previously highlighted, Fiji has reported 30 new infections for the period of January-June, 2012.

"This number could most probably increase by the end of December. We are, therefore, faced with the reality of an increasing number of people living with and affected by the infection," Ratu Epeli said.

Fiji has a total of 449 cases as of last month.

"It is very unfortunate that the burden of the disease falls mostly on our most vulnerable populations," said Ratu Epeli.

"It is our young people, our women and our children and the other marginalised groups who bear the burden and who are impacted the most."

The president said recent statistics showed 47 per cent of all new infections were among the young, the bulk of the labour force, the sexually active, and the most productive group.

"That is, our young people between 15-29 years of age. Within this group, an increasing number of cases are being reported amongst young women."

He said in 2010, there were 33 new cases but this number increased by 20 for 2011. "It is apparent to me that HIV in Fiji is no longer just about information and awareness campaigns alone." Ratu Epeli said the main reason for this was the very high number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in the community because of the failure to practise safe sex.

"You all know only too well that our response work on sexual transmission has been constant, relentless and ongoing but the new cases of HIV are still high and increasing," he said. UN resident co-ordinator Knut Ostby said Fiji was a low prevalence country. "But we have recently seen a number of new, confirmed HIV infections here, and it is crucial that this trend is stopped before it takes off and we lose the benefits and relative safety of a low prevalence situation," he said.





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