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HIV siege

Jone Kalouniviti
Monday, February 03, 2014

SOME students who live with parents infected with HIV/AIDS are being discriminated against in schools.

And according to Temo Sasau of FJN Plus, the NGO has received reports of children being victimised to the point of being told they had to change schools.

"Some have even had their house stoned," he said.

FJN Plus is involved in empowering and educating those living with HIV/AIDS.

Mr Sasau said hopefully the new HIV/AIDS policy for schools to be implemented by the Ministry of Education this year would put an end to discrimination of children.

He said the policy would give parents living with HIV/AIDS the confidence to send their children to school.

The Education Ministry has confirmed it was in the process of distributing the policy to schools.

This will be followed by visits from the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) which will conduct workshops and training.

NSAAC director Misaele Driubalavu said while the HIV/AIDS decree made it illegal for such discrimination to take place, the introduction of such a policy in schools was necessary.

He said all schools would get a copy and be made aware of the contents of the policy.

"The policy has also been published in the Ministry of Education Term 3 Gazette 2013 which has been circulated to all schools in the country," he said.

"The NSAAC team will also be carrying out awareness programs to teachers in schools during its training of trainers program during the year.

"Students will also be made aware during the peer education training program conducted every year.

"The risk is much higher now. It needs to be pointed out that the total accumulative figure as at March, 31, 2013, has gone up to 491 cases."

HIV/AIDS is now also covered in the family life education program in schools.

The new Policy of National Management of HIV/AIDS in Fiji Schools - passed by the Ministry of Education this year - says it can no longer be denied "our students and school personnel are indulging in unprotected sex which is becoming a problem amongst young people and the risk of getting STI and teenage pregnancy is very high through which they become more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS".

"Within the context of early sexual activities, the risk of young students contracting the virus is increasing," section 3.2.5 says.

"Similarly, the increased sexual activities among older students and the evidence of unprotected sexual relations expose older students and members of the schools community to the risk of infection through sexual transmission."

The objectives of the policy "is to ensure the effective prevention of HIV and AIDS and the appropriate care, treatment of students and school personnel living with HIV and AIDS.

"It is to also ensure the provision of a systematic and consistent information and educational material on HIV and AIDS throughout the educational system."





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