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Fiji Time: 10:09 AM on Sunday 20 April

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Call to arrest HIV spread

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, December 03, 2013

PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says despite the annual growth in the number of people affected by HIV/AIDS, the "common vision of an AIDS-free country is possible and attainable".

And Ratu Epeli says there is a growing demand for members of the public and those working to create awareness of the illness to continue to work together to arrest its spread.

During a prayer breakfast session organised by the Fiji Network Plus (FJN+) at the Holiday Inn, Ratu Epeli told the participants while the global front had announced a decrease in new HIV infections in most countries, the story is not the same locally.

He said in 2010 there were 33 positive cases, and 28 new cases have been reported since June this year. The total number of cases diagnosed in Fiji is 508.

"These facts are undeniable," he said.

"We should not be tempted to downplay the statistics and impact or to deny the reality that we face. At the same time, the epidemic is not about statistics. It is about people, about families, and communities.

"It is about our loved ones".

Fiji is part of the world in trying to decrease the numbers of AIDS cases and Ratu Epeli believes Fiji is on the right path in achieving AIDS-free status.

"A few years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that such progress would be evident in our country, but standing here today, I can confidently say that the journey towards an AIDS-free world has begun and Fiji is definitely on the right path.

"Our common vision of an AIDS-free country is possible and attainable, let us continue to strive towards its realisation."

Ratu Epeli said there was a growing need to include youths in the areas of creating awareness in communities regarding the virus.

"Let us not forget the need to continuously increase our efforts to promote youth participation and commitment.

"More services aimed at youth, more parental involvement, more education and information, using schools and other sites, more protection for girls, orphaned children and young women, and more partnerships with people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS."