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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 8, 1999 – Pacnews/AIDSTOK/Secretariat of the South Pacific Commission)---Fiji's School of Maritime Studies has incorporated a compulsory course on HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) into its curriculum to make seafarers more aware of unsafe sex risks.

The head of the school, Kevueli Tavainavesi, said since its introduction at the beginning of this year, more than 500 students have enrolled and obtained course certificates.

Tavainavesi said the school introduced the course after the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommended that this topic be taught because Pacific seafarers stayed away from home for long periods of time and were likely to engage in sexual intercourse overseas.

He said making seafarers aware of STD prevented the risk of infection.

All maritime colleges in the Pacific region have incorporated the compulsory course into their curricula.

In support of the project, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has developed a training program that includes peer education, production of curriculum resources and the training of trainers.

Tavainavesi said three lecturers at the Fiji school had undergone training in the Pacific Community courses.

He said everyone who works in a ship has to pass the course in order to obtain a safety certificate.

"By the year 2002, all seafarers must have obtained the HIV-STD safety certificate." he said.

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