FIJI ARTS FESTIVAL TO ADDRESS PACIFIC HIV/AIDS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, September 27) – Plans are underway for Fiji's Ministry of Health and other stakeholders involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS to initiate discussions related to it at the Melanesian Arts Festival.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community behavioral change and communication officer in the HIV/STI section, Jovesa Saladoka, said stakeholders thought the traditional and cultural setting was ideal to discuss HIV/AIDS.

"The Pacific Regional HIV/AIDS strategy has encapsulated reducing the vulnerability of Pacific Islanders to HIV/AIDS infection and support for those who are living with the virus," he said. "However, HIV/AIDS has unfortunately become synonymous with Melanesia as countries like Papua New Guinea and Fiji report escalating figures of individuals being affected. HIV/AIDS has continued to thrive in limited resource settings and fragile economies, particularly amongst the youth."

The festival runs for a week starting from October 3 at various venues from the Post Fiji Stadium to Ratu Sukuna Park, Festival Village at the Fiji Development Bank foreshore, lower Civic Auditorium and the Fiji Museum.

September 28, 2006

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com

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