Entries in HIV/AIDS (6)



The move to create awareness on HIV/AIDS in schools by His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has been welcomed by students in Tavua.

Fiji’s Head of State spent this week visiting schools in the western division advocating for more awareness on HIV/AIDS.

President Nailatikau told the students of Tavua District High School and Tavua College that despite the efforts of all relevant stakeholders to address increasing statistics, there is a general lack of understanding by the public on this global disease.

While he highlighted the value of contraception in reducing statistics in the country, he also urged students to concentrate on their studies and their future.

Some of the challenges highlighted by the Head of State, who is also the United Nations AIDS Ambassador to the Pacific, include the low number of people testing voluntarily, data collection, stigma and discrimination and low condom usage.

His Excellency said that “There are quite a few challenges that our health ministry is facing regarding HIV/AIDS and one is data collection”. “Data is a very important document that will assist our health professionals. We also have people who shy away from having their blood tests.” 

With current testing facilities only available in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa, Ratu Epeli who is also the United Nations (UN) AIDS Ambassador to the Pacific said Government will open more in especially in rural and out islands.




Students of Dilkusha Methodists High School have been encouraged to learn more about HIV/AIDS and to communicate openly with their parents to effectively understand about it.

 This was conveyed this week by the His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau during a visit to the school this week.

 “HIV/AIDS education begins at home that is where it must begin and should begin from your parents,” President said.

 30 new cases were recorded in June last year with 70 percent of new cases from the central and eastern division.


“Your parents have the responsibility to teach you the facts of life and how HIV/AIDS is very much of factor in our society.”


The head of state said for the past 30 years HIV/AIDS has become part of society and we should act to eradicate this disease.


“We can still fight this deadly disease if we combine efforts with families, communities and society.”


The President highlighted that stigmatisation and discrimination amongst people living with the disease remains a global concern and one that Fiji is strongly addressing.


“We need more advocacy programs with families and health centres should provide more awareness to communities to reach out to those in the outer islands,” the head of state said.


Meanwhile the Dilkusha Methodists High School principal Mereoni Motieliu urged the education ministry to strengthen the awareness programs on HIV/AIDS in the school curriculum.


“Talking about HIV/AIDS still is sensitive issue our at our homes because of traditional taboo however we need to change our perspective towards this issue because the younger generation are victims,” Mrs Motieliu said.


Mrs Motieliu reiterated the president’s statements and encouraged parents to talk with their children and become advocates at home and in their own society.





HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau speaking to teachers of Sigatoka Methodist College

His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has urged parents to educate their children about the deadly epidemic of HIV/AIDS and the various issues related to it, as HIV education begins from home. 

Ratu Epeli, who is visiting Sigatoka as part of his nation-wide anti- HIV AIDS campaign, told students and teachers of Sigatoka Methodist College that “HIV/AIDS is very much a fact in all our lives today.”  

He said students must be taught about these issues now in school so that they make responsible decisions in their own lives and inform others about this disease at the same time.  

“Parents should by now have realised after 40 years that HIV/AIDS is not going to go away by just ignoring it and by avoiding talking about it. HIV/AIDS can only go away by our combined response in educating first the family and next the public at large about this deadly epidemic, for which there is no known cure,” Ratu Epeli said.  

The President said that the public at large is being educated about HIV/AIDS but it is the parents’ responsibility to play their part.

“Parents must reject stigma and discrimination. They must communicate openly about the risks and they must change behaviour norms. We already know what works and what does not work about the response to HIV/AIDS and no parent will ever accept the sad fact that with AIDS there is a possibility, a sad one at that, that their children could go before they do.

“Their children are part of the 15-29 and the 30-39 age groups. These two groups are considered the youth who are the most sexually active and they make the bulk of the working population and the most vulnerable. Parents should talk to their children about family values, about being caring and about being careful, about abstinence and practicing safe sex,” Ratu Epeli added.

He stressed that teachers are there to assist in the teaching process but HIV education must begin with the parents.

“Ensuring safer sex reduces the spread of HIV. We need to get more people, particularly the youth, to adopt safer sexual behaviours. The catch word is to ‘get it on before you get it on,” he said.

He also called on everybody to work together in ensuring there are zero new HIV infections, zero HIV discrimination and zero HIV/AIDS related death.

Ratu Epeli re-emphasised the need for Government, the business community, faith based organisations and all Fijians to work together in raising the much needed awareness across all levels of our society.

With international campaigns against the deadly disease gaining momentum, the support of the nation was critical in minimizing the risks associated with the spread of the disease.

"You, parents have a more important role to play as the awareness needed to start from home," Ratu Epeli added.




Cabinet has approved the adoption of the ILO Recommendation No. 200 of 2010 to facilitate the prevention of HIV/AIDS in Fiji’s workplaces.

Cabinet based its decision on a submission by the Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr Jone Usamate.

The Minister said that the aim of the Recommendation is to promote the prevention of HIV/AIDS in workplaces, and give effect to existing policies and laws in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in workplaces which would also have positive effects to the achievement of national outcomes in the MDG goals.

“It focuses on measures to reinforce worldwide workplace actions on tackling HIV and AIDS.  It covers workers, trainees, volunteers and jobseekers.

“The Recommendation provides for general principles; national policies and programmes; non-discrimination and equal treatment; prevention; treatment and care; support; testing, privacy and confidentiality; occupational health and safety; children and young persons; implementation; social dialogue; education, training, information and consultation; public services; international cooperation; and follow-up.”

The Minister said that the Government has fulfilled the national policy provisions under ILO Recommendation 200 as contained in the new HIV/AIDS Decree passed by Cabinet last year, including the reformed labour laws and National Code of Practice for HIV/AIDS in the Workplace promulgated by Government in 2007, 2008 and 2009. 



The Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr Michel Sidibé has commended Fiji’s progress in raising awareness for HIV/AIDS in the country.

Mr Sidibé made the comments at a joint press conference with the President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau following a meeting with HIV/AIDS stakeholders, held today at Government House.

At the same time, Mr Sidibé highlighted how Fiji had advanced the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS.

“Fiji must be thanked and commended for the removal of travel restrictions for visitors coming here who are living with HIV/AIDS”, he told participants and media personnel this afternoon.

“We need a holistic approach towards raising this awareness especially in this region because I believe that this region could be a model for triple zero (000) meaning zero infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination.”

His Excellency Ratu Epeli agreed that a collective approach was needed to ensure that statistics for those living with the virus remain at a stable level.

“We all have a part to play and it is important to practice safe sex”, said Ratu Epeli who is also the HIV/AIDS ambassador for Fiji and the Pacific.

The meeting at Government house today saw people from different sectors coming together to pitch in ideas on how Fiji could raise more awareness towards HIV/AIDS because according to Ministry of Health statistics, numbers continue to rise.

Mr Sidibé’s visit to Fiji marks an important chapter in the progressive steps undertaken by the Fijian government to address HIV/AIDS.

While Fiji is classified as a low HIV prevalence country, its commitment to addressing this virus has seen an allocation of financial and capital resources to address this issue. In 2009 alone, Fiji spent a total of US$2.1 million on its AIDS response.

In 2011, Fiji became the first country in the Pacific region to eliminate laws restricting travel of people infected with HIV/AIDS, and passed the HIV/AIDS Decree as part of committing to human rights for those with the virus and to ensure that Fiji meets its own Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.