FIJI MINISTRY OF HEALTH STUDIES COMPULSORY HIV/AIDS TESTS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 28, 2002 - FM96/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's Ministry of Health is looking at the possibility of compulsory HIV/AIDS tests to help keep track of the rising number of cases and try to curb infections.

Ministry legal officers met for the first time to "brainstorm" on legal options in the battle against the spread of the deadly disease.

Permanent Secretary for Health Luke Rokovada said mandatory testing and screening is needed if the fight is to succeed.

Mr. Rokovadra said it was time to move from holding workshops to practical, pragmatic and easily implementable programs.

The legal "brainstorming" workshop also looked at laws to stop people from spreading HIV/AIDS.

Fiji officially has 100 reported infections but the number is believed to be considerably higher.

In reaction, Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Alia said conducting tests and making them known to the public would be a direct violation of human rights.

Ms. Ali emphasized the need to get the public to express their views on the matter, as it is a very sensitive one.

For additional reports from theFM96, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Fiji Village News (FM96/Navtarang.VitiFM).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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