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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 12, 2001 – The Daily Post)---Village elders in Lekutu, Bua are calling on the Health Ministry to conduct compulsory HIV tests on village members suspected of contracting the killer disease AIDS.

The village elders, who wish to remain anonymous, claim half the village contracted the killer disease from two fellow villagers who died this year from AIDS.

They said they had recently decided in a village meeting that anyone found to be HIV positive should be isolated on an uninhabited offshore island.

Doctors at the Labasa Hospital say rumors abound of Bua province being infested with suspected HIV positive people.

They say the village elder’s decision to segregate HIV positive people is unfair.

They also say health authorities cannot force a villager to undergo an HIV test.

Consultant physician at Labasa Hospital Dr. John Tamargo, who is also head of the HIV awareness team in the north, said they cannot force anyone suspected of being HIV positive to undergo an HIV test.

"Although I must confirm with very grave concern that both the number of reported and unreported cases of HIV is on the rise in the Northern Division," Dr. Tamargo said, "forcing people to undergo tests is inhumane and a breach of someone’s rights.

"However, the only thing which we are currently doing is educating the villages through our health nurses on preventative measures."

Other villagers have called on the government to introduce compulsory testing laws if people are suspected of being HIV positive.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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