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TARAWA, Kiribati (March 24, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The first Kiribati counseling workshop on HIV/AIDS is being held this week in Tarawa.

The workshop was opened Monday by the Minister of Health and Family Planning, Kataaotika Tekee, Radio Kiribati reports.

Tekee said the workshop was initiated because of the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country. At the end of last year, he said, 20 HIV cases had been confirmed in Kiribati. Eight of the patients died of AIDS.

An Australian consultant, Bill O'Loughlin, from the UNAID office in Suva, Fiji, says the workshop is covering three main areas. One is general information about HIV/AIDS, understanding the basic needs of those affected and to developing necessary counseling skills.

The workshop is being attended by more than 30 participants representing the Ministry of Health and other public and private agencies.

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