40 New HIV+ Cases This Year: Ak­bar

Fiji Sun - - Big Story - NICOLETTE CHAM­BERS Edited by Caro­line Ratu­cadra Feed­back: nicolette.cham­bers@fi­jisun.com.fj

43 new HIV

di­ag­nosed cases in Fiji

320 HIV

pos­i­tive cases cur­rently in Fiji to­day

Fiji has recorded 43 newly di­ag­nosed hu­man im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency virus (HIV) pos­i­tive cases since the be­gin­ning of this year, it was re­vealed yes­ter­day. Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices, Rosy Ak­bar, made this rev­e­la­tion while of­fi­ci­at­ing at the World Aids Day cel­e­bra­tion at Churchill Park, Lautoka. The new cases bring to a to­tal of 725 con­firmed HIV cases since the first case was di­ag­nosed in 1989. This is an av­er­age of about 20 new cases per year, Ms Ak­bar said. With these fig­ures, Ms Ak­bar said: “That is an av­er­age of more than four cases per month! Fiji con­tin­ues to have an in­crease in the num­ber of new HIV in­fec­tions es­pe­cially amongst our young peo­ple from the ages of 19-29 years.” Ms Ak­bar said World Aids Day served as an im­por­tant re­minder that the epi­demic was still around and more should be done to in­crease aware­ness and elim­i­nate prej­u­dice. “Through a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort we have been able to have suc­cess sto­ries de­spite the in­crease in new HIV in­fec­tions.” She said the Min­istry had been able to ex­pand its HIV test­ing sites from one to 13.

“These test­ing sites do not only screen for HIV but they also con­duct con­fir­ma­tory tests which re­duce the turn­around time for our HIV re­sults.” To­day, there are 320 HIV pos­i­tive cases in Fiji ini­ti­ated on an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment. The num­ber of peo­ple on treat­ment has slowly grown since the in­tro­duc­tion of an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment in 2010, Ms Ak­bar said. She said they hope to get more peo­ple liv­ing with Aids on treat­ment and keep them on treat­ment. “Al­though we con­tinue to have new HIV in­fec­tions amongst our young adults, Fiji has been able to re­duce new HIV in­fec­tions amongst new­borns from HIV pos­i­tive mothers. “I am proud to say that Fiji is on the right track of achiev­ing the goals of elim­i­nat­ing Mother to Child Trans­mis­sion be­fore 2030,” Ms Ak­bar said. She ac­knowl­edged United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) for their sup­port in pro­vid­ing the Min­istry with mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment to mon­i­tor pa­tients clus­ter of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion 4 (CD4) counts and most im­por­tantly their vi­ral loads.

“Our col­lab­o­ra­tive re­sponse to HIV has brought us all to­gether to­day. It has cre­ated unity amongst us with one com­mon goal – to end AIDS and have an AIDS free Fiji.” “Un­like many other com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, HIV pre­ven­tion is very much within the power of the in­di­vid­ual,” Ms Ak­bar said. She urged the young pop­u­lace of Fiji to pre­vent them­selves from be­com­ing in­fected with the virus by prac­tic­ing safe sex, be a faith­ful part­ner and de­lay the age as which you first have sex.

Ms Ak­bar said World Aids Day served as an im­por­tant re­minder that the epi­demic was still around and more should be done to in­crease aware­ness and elim­i­nate prej­u­dice.

Photo: Nicolette Cham­bers

Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices Rosy Ak­bar with 10-yearold Lu­sia Tavusere at the World Aids Day cel­e­bra­tion at Churchill Park in Lautoka yes­ter­day.

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