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HIV stigma, discrimination still an issue

Margaret Wise
Thursday, April 18, 2013

THE government has provided unprecedented support towards the management of HIV and AIDS issues in Fiji, says President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

However, he said work on awareness and understanding of HIV in Fiji was far from over. Stigma and discrimination remained an issue.

Ratu Epeli said the protective power of laws — as recognised by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law — must be harnessed to eliminate these two issues.

He was speaking at a regional meeting in Nadi yesterday which aimed to identify and review laws and policies that were barriers to effective HIV responses in line with international human rights standards.

"In February 2011, the Fiji government had enacted the Fiji HIV/AIDS Decree 2011. The purpose of the decree was to provide human rights based measures to assist HIV prevention and in HIV/AIDS care and support.

"The decree addresses human rights violations that fuel social marginalisation, such as stigma and discrimination which remain as barriers to the HIV/AIDS response in Fiji, and in other Pacific Island countries.

"However, the decree was not perfect and the process for its review began immediately with further consultations with our friends and partners and resulted in the HIV/AIDS (Amendment) Decree 2011 which was enacted just six months later in August 2011 making the decree internationally compliant."

The three-day Pacific Consultation on Legal and Policy Barriers to Accessing HIV Services for PLHIV and Affected Populations ends tomorrow.





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