Plans to address HIV-AIDS stigma

AT least 747 new cases of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have been diagnosed in Fiji since February last year. Jokapeci Tuberi, Regional Coordinator for HIV Stigma Index of the Fiji Network of People Living with HIV (FJN+1) says the number is expected to increase once the updated record is release from the Fiji Ministry of Health.

“With more aggressive public awareness and prevention campaigns, more people are coming out to have their status known to the public,” Tuberi said. From the month of January to October 2016, Fiji has a total of 43 newly-diagnosed HIV positive cases.

That is an average of more than four cases per month. There was also an increase in the number of new HIV infections, particularly among those between the ages of 19 and 29.

An overview report of People Living with HIV Stigma Index Study in seven countries in the Pacific indicated that Kiribati has 28 cases of people living with HIV, Samoa has 11, Federated States of Micronesia 9, Marshall Islands 8, Vanuatu 6, Palau 5 and Tonga 2. Tuberi said HIV cases in Kiribati was high because of the number of foreign fishing vessels that call on the island.

The report also found that people living with HIV in the Pacific Islands are experiencing high levels of stigma and discrimination, resulting in social exclusion and hindering access to basic social services including health care.

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