Urgent measures underway to combat HIV/AIDS epidemic
Cases are doubling each year – Health Minister

Urgent measures underway to combat HIV/AIDS epidemic

Cases are doubling each year – Health Minister

By Marika Rasekaseka
Wednesday 17/04/2024
Minister for Health Dr Atonio Lalabalavu

Unsafe sexual practices and the use of injectable drugs have been identified as the contributing factor to the rise of HIV and AIDS cases in Fiji, and the latest new HIV statistics show a near doubling of new cases diagnosed each year from 2021, 2022 and 2023 and this is expected to continue in 2024.

Minister for Health Dr Atonio Lalabalavu made this statement in Parliament today while responding to the questions raised by FijiFirst MP Virendra Lal on what measures the Health Ministry will take to combat the rising cases of HIV/AIDS in the country.

The Minister says their Ministry is finalising the HIV Surge Strategy that will facilitate their collaboration with health partners across Government Ministries and their communities to strengthen prevention, increase national HIV testing by 3% for key population groups, improve access to diagnosis and treatment, reduce stigma and discrimination relating to HIV and AIDS and strengthen the governance of our HIV response program.

He says for the cases from last year, 404 are adults and 11 cases are children, and according to the Global AIDS Monitoring Report, Fiji is now one of the top 2 countries in the Asia-Pacific region with rapidly rising new HIV infections.

He adds the Ministry is aware of the linkage between the use of illicit drugs in the country and the rise of HIV cases.

FijiFirst MP, Penioni Ravunawa asked the Minister if he would consider the formulation of a policy advocating non-criminal treatment of drug abuse or drug use, emphasising it as a public health concern rather than purely legal issues and encouraging the needle users or drug users to seek assistance in our public and private health facilities.

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