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.
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