WITH four communities visited through awareness programs, there is more to come as the Fiji Red Cross Society actively participates in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the north.
The villagers of Tokamu in Labasa counted themselves privileged for the wealth of knowledge that they gained from the recent tour by the Labasa Red Cross branch addressing issues on combating HIV/AIDS and TB.
Tokamu villager Aporosa Rageci said the visit gave the villagers time to sit down with their youths and discuss a fragile issue that was often shunned in the iTaukei society.
"We are thankful to the team for making the effort to visit us as we believe that it is about time we started talking about HIV/AIDS and addressing preventative measures for preventing this disease," he said.
"The more we deny and turn a blind eye to the dark reality of HIV/AIDS, the more likely it will blow out of proportions and be beyond our control.
"I personally witnessed a change in the environment with our community members when the issue of safe sex was brought up with the use of prophylactics and we are happy that this is being addressed with the youths of this village," he said.
Mr Rageci said the youths' queries and responses to the awareness program was a positive sign that the message was having its intended effects on them in terms of raising awareness.
North Red Cross co-ordinator Arthur Simmons said the awareness program was part of their normal reach-out to communities in the north.
"Communities in the north should expect more programs like this targeted at keeping our people informed in our effort to put a stop to the rise of HIV/AIDS and TB," he said.