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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 24, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's Public Health Act should be amended to make HIV/AIDS a reportable disease, a workshop in Suva has recommended.

According to current regulations, diseases such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea and syphilis have to be reported but not HIV/AIDS, a Ministry of Information report said.

Workshop participants heard that many people visit private doctors instead of public hospitals, and private doctors are not required by any legislation to report HIV/AIDS cases. They are bound by patient confidentiality. As a result, there are no official records containing detailed information about persons infected with HIV/AIDS. This includes occupational background, ethnicity and age group, information that can be used to target educational materials to specific groups as a preventative measure.

The workshop discussed Fiji's National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan.

The workshop heard that there are many reasons why someone may be vulnerable to HIV infection.

Those most at risk are people who have multiple partners and who do not have protected sexual intercourse.

Often this relates to their social circumstances but it can also be because of ignorance or denial of personal risk, the workshop heard.

Other people can be vulnerable to HIV because they are more likely to come in contact with it. This includes people who travel overseas, such as seafarers or some military and police personnel.

People who are most vulnerable in the community are often those who are poor and desperate, the workshop heard.

They may also be more likely to have sex for food, shelter or money or be in situations where they are forced to have sex. These people also have less access to education about HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, safer sex and condoms, the workshop heard.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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