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Free ART offer a blessing

Ana Madigibuli
Thursday, June 12, 2014

FIJI is the only country in the Pacific that offers antiretroviral care and treatment (ART) free.

And UNICEF Pacific representative Karen Allen said Fiji was also one of the few nations in the world to offer this.

In her address at the Ministry of Health's prevention of parent to child guideline launch in Suva yesterday, she said UNICEF believed that mother to child transmission could be eliminated in the near future and Fiji's accomplishments were very impressive.

She said the updating of policies and guidelines was another important contribution to reaching the goal of zero cases.

"We all share an important goal, which is zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination on people living with HIV and those affected by HIV and zero AIDS-related deaths," Ms Allen said.

"Around the world, governments do not have the political will or commitment or there is just not enough money because so many people are infected to achieve zero goal, which is a blessing that we have in the face of this epidemic in Fiji," she said.

"I am so proud to be working in a place that has been recognised and the commitment is there and the budget being allocated."

She said there was a need to expand the services to ensure that pregnant women had the access and use of prevention services.

"I know here in Fiji that a great accomplishment is 90 per cent of pregnant women have access to this services and I think we can reach 100 per cent.

"A lot of it has to do with more information, mobilisation and also reducing stigma and fear."

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