HIV

HIV infections in Fiji increased 260% since 2010, making Fiji the second fastest-growing epidemic in the Asia Pacific region

HIV infections in Fiji increased 260% since 2010, making Fiji the second fastest-growing epidemic in the Asia Pacific region

By fijivillage
Sunday 12/11/2023

Speaker of Parliament and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for the Pacific Region, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says according to the Global AIDS Monitoring Report, Fiji is in the top 5 countries of rising new HIV infections in the Asia Pacific region amongst the 15 to 24-year-old age group with an increasing rate of over 50 percent since 2010.


Transmission of HIV from mothers has risen with 14 children under the age of four diagnosed last year – Dr Lalabalavu

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Friday 15/09/2023
[Photo: File]

Minister for Health Dr. Atonio Lalabalavu says the transmission of HIV from mothers to their innocent children has risen, with 14 children under the age of four diagnosed last year.

While speaking at the National HIV Stakeholders meeting at the Women’s Corrections Centre in Walu Bay, Dr Lalabalavu says it's even more heart-wrenching with the rise in AIDS-related deaths, with a record-breaking of 46 lives lost to this unforgiving disease.

He says HIV, a virus that has been with us for nearly four decades, continues to shape the trajectory of our societies.

He further says mass media campaigns have played a pivotal role in raising awareness and reducing stigma, however, it is with heavy hearts that they acknowledge that many countries, including Fiji, still grapple with the challenges posed by HIV.

He adds Fiji is facing a formidable battle on the HIV front.

The Minister says the meeting serves as a platform for diverse stakeholder groups to share their unique perspectives, foster dialogue, and seek common ground in their relentless pursuit of progress against HIV.

Dr Lalabalavu says it is through these exchanges that they can craft meaningful strategies, develop innovative approaches, and bolster their collective determination to propel the HIV agenda forward.

The Minister also assured representatives from civil society organizations, non-government organizations and community-based organizations that the Ministry is steadfast in its dedication to the cause and they will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf.

He says together, they have the power to transform the trajectory of HIV in Fiji and beyond.



Out of the 245 new cases of HIV last year, 3 people possibly transmit it through sharing of used needles – Dr Devi

By Marika Rasekaseka
Saturday 09/09/2023

While Fiji recorded 245 new cases of HIV in 2022, it is noted that 3 (1.2 percent) of these individuals were people who injected drugs and possibly transmitted it through sharing of used needles.

This was highlighted by the Head of Family Health of the Ministry of Health, Dr Rachel Devi.

Dr. Devi says around 11 million people who inject drugs are at increased risk of HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C after being overdosed.

She says approximately 1 in 8 or 1.4 million people injecting drugs are living with HIV, while 39.4% have viral hepatitis C infection.

She adds that globally, approximately 10% of new HIV infections are attributed to injecting drug use and 1 in 3 Hepatitis C deaths are attributable to injecting drug use.

Dr. Devi says the World Health Organisation recommends a package of harm reduction interventions to reduce transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis, as well as deaths due to overdose amongst people who inject drugs and at the same time, allow them to access the health-care system and engage with tuberculosis care and mental health services.

She says harm reduction interventions are essential to achieve the global targets for viral hepatitis elimination and control of HIV/AIDS epidemics.

Dr. Devi urges all Fijians not to share needles at any point in time and to get tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases immediately for early detection and intervention.



Urgent call made to ensure that all expectant mothers and their partners get tested for HIV when they get pregnant

231 adults and 14 children diagnosed with HIV cases in 2022
By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 17/08/2023
HIV advocate Rebecca Kubunavanua Ministry of Health, Doctor Rachel Devi

An urgent call has been made by the Head of Family Health at the Ministry of Health, Doctor Rachel Devi and HIV advocate and woman living with HIV, Rebecca Kubunavanua for expectant mothers and their partners to get tested for HIV.

It has been revealed on fijivillage Straight Talk With Vijay Narayan that many expectant mothers are not going for their clinics after they get pregnant, and when they find out late that they have HIV and have passed HIV onto their child, it may be too late.

Doctor Devi says some women only come to the hospital when they are in labour.

She says everyone in Fiji should be concerned about the new HIV infections in Fiji that has surged by a staggering 260 percent since 2010, making Fiji the second fastest-growing epidemic in the Asia Pacific region.

She says last year, Fiji had 4 new born babies that were born HIV positive.

A detailed analysis of the data reveals that 245 new cases of HIV were diagnosed last year, the highest ever to be recorded in a year, indicating that new HIV infections are on the rise.

It is a 100 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Doctor Devi also confirms that adults constitute 94 percent of the cases last year which is 231 cases and children make up 6 percent which are 14 cases.

Males were the most affected with 61 percent (150 cases), females recorded 36 percent (88 cases), and transgender with 3% (7 cases).

43 percent of the new cases are among individuals aged 20 to 29 years and 28 percent are between 30 to 39 years.

Doctor Devi and Kubunavanua call out on everyone to come forward and get tested as it is free and they can get this done at any Ministry of Health clinic.



Person living with HIV stresses the importance of ART

By Alipate Narawa
Monday 14/08/2023
People Living with HIV advocate Christopher Lutukivuya

People Living with HIV advocate Christopher Lutukivuya says when he when he found out he was HIV positive, everything crashed inside and outside of him but his response to the news was just ‘oh, okay’ and he walked out the door with a fake smile on his face.

Lutukivuya says he received his results from the doctors in 2013 advising him that he was already in the AIDS zone.

He says as a person living positively with HIV, he wants to shed light on the importance of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV and the needed support towards it.

He says we need to recognise ART as a powerful tool for self-expression healing and self-empowerment.

The HIV advocate says ART has proven to be a game-changer in the management of HIV infection.

He says it has revolutionised the lives of people with HIV by reducing viral loads, improving immune functions, and preventing HIV-related complications.

Lutukivuya says studies conducted in Fiji and the Pacific region have confirmed the remarkable success of ART, particularly emphasising the positive impact of adherence and community-based support.

He says antiretroviral therapy can transcend and unite people from all walks of life.

The HIV advocate says this medication suppresses the virus allowing individuals like him to maintain healthy immune systems and reduce the risk of opportunistic infections but overall reduces the chances of transmitting it.

He says access to ART is not only a fundamental human right but also critical to the improvement of life and longevity for people with HIV in Fiji.

Lutukivuya has also emphasised the need to strengthen the importance of monitoring and support systems for people with HIV on ART with regularly followed-up routine viral load monitoring and counseling that is vital to ensure optimal treatment outcomes.

He adds let us work together to guarantee quality support for people living with HIV and strive towards an inclusive society that values health and dignity.



It is not only HIV/AIDS have seen an increase in numbers but other social issues as well- Reverend Tugi

By Iliana Biutu
Saturday 05/08/2023
Fiji Council of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Simione Tugi

It is not only HIV/AIDs cases that has seen an increase but other social issues like poverty, drugs, alcohol abuse, rape, human trafficking, prostitution, homelessness, theft, violence against women and children, increase in street dwellers, violence in the school, theft with violence as well.

This was a response from the Fiji Council of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Simione Tugi when asked by fijivillage News what the church can do to bring change in the community with regards to HIV/AIDS and other social issues.

Tugi says the Fiji Council of Churches is deeply concerned because it seriously affects our society and lately two of our big suppliers of tourists, America and New Zealand had given some travel advice to their citizens in coming to Fiji.

He says we do not want to blame anybody but we need to identify the root causes of the surge.

He further says for so many years, the church and the Vanua were sidelined thus no consultations were done and what we have seen today is a direct consequence of the action we took years ago.

The President say curbing these problems requires an integrated approach in which community stakeholders and society work together to improve safety by tackling the fundamental causes of criminality through mobilizing the state and non-state capacities, Vanua, church, and resources at all levels.

He adds the government cannot handle this alone, the three-legged stool approach is the best way to handle this because it is everyone's business. Tugi says the government has the knowledge and the resources and the church and the vanua have the people.

He believes that the government should also provide resources for churches by conducting workshops and training.



151 new HIV cases recorded for 2021 in Fiji which has been the highest number of reported annual HIV infections

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 02/05/2022

151 new cases of HIV were recorded for 2021 in Fiji.

The new infection case summaries reflect that most of the diagnosis are in the younger population bracket.

The main mode of transmission is through unsafe sex practices.

Some of the newly diagnosed cases have also indicated to be injecting drug users and are sharing needles with others, which is another emerging mode of HIV transmission.

The Health Ministry says these numbers reflect a cause for concern, citing the potential of many unknown cases in the community.

From the 151 reported HIV infections, 82 percent are from the ages of 20 to 49 years, 6 percent are adolescents and 6 percent are less than 10 years of age reflecting 9 mother to child transmissions.

The Health Ministry says this has been the highest number of reported annual HIV infections since the first reported case in 1989.

There have been 25 HIV-related deaths including 1 paediatric death.

These statistics were shared at the quarterly HIV board meeting chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services, Doctor James Fong and attended by other members from government ministries, development partners, academia, civil society organizations and HIV board patron Speaker of Parliament and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Since 1989, there has been a cumulative number of 1417 cases of HIV reported in Fiji.

52 percent of the new infections were recorded from the Central/Eastern division.

36 percent was from the Western division and 12 percent from the Northern division.

The Western and Northern divisions have reported an increase in cases in comparison to 2020.

The new infection shows a shifting trend in the gender profile with 52 percent of cases among men, 47 percent female and 1 percent transgender.

Most infections reported were from late case presentations of HIV during the 2nd wave of COVID-19 in Fiji.

Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Chair for the HIV Board, Doctor James Fong has appointed a working group consisting of senior HIV medical staff and development partners such as UNAIDS to escalate current efforts by the HIV program to counter these rising numbers.

Doctor Fong says these escalated efforts are to cover all focus areas starting from prevention, data management, testing, treatment and the delivery of care.

He says the Ministry acknowledges the importance of community partners and will work jointly to ensure that at risk populations receive the services they need.



Fiji is in the top 5 countries of rising new HIV infections in the Asia Pacific region for the 15 to 24 year age group - Ratu Epeli

506 HIV/AIDS cases in Fiji including 38 children
By Shanil Singh
Tuesday 28/09/2021
Speaker of Parliament and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for the Pacific Region, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. [Image: Parliament of Fiji]

Speaker of Parliament and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for the Pacific Region, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says according to the Global AIDS Monitoring Report, Fiji is in the top 5 countries of rising new HIV infections in the Asia Pacific region amongst the 15 to 24-year-old age group with an increasing rate of over 50 percent since 2010.

Ratu Epeli says this puts Fiji ahead of all other Pacific Island countries which is a cause for great concern.

There are currently 506 cases of HIV/AIDS in Fiji which includes 38 children.

Ratu Epeli says Fiji recorded 147 new cases last year but adds are these were mostly opportunistic cases.

He says this could indicate that there are many unknown cases out there which is a trend that is common throughout the world.

Ratu Epeli adds he has no doubt that these numbers are not acceptable.

He says its not too late for us to reduce the number of new infections of HIV in Fiji and prevent AIDS-related deaths.

Ratu Epeli says there are many innovations we must introduce such pre-exposure prophylaxis services for HIV prevention, stronger HIV combination programs targeting young people and key populations such as the LGBTIQ community and sex workers.

He says he fully understands and totally supports the importance of the COVID-19 response however existing diseases such as HIV also needs our continued attention as it has been around for so many years and is still without a cure.

He believes the lessons learnt from the HIV Response and all the resources that have been injected into our health system has given us the boost we need to rejuvenate our HIV program.

Ratu Epeli adds it is not too late for us to reduce the number of new infections of HIV in Fiji and prevent AIDS-related deaths.


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