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HIV and AIDS Conference Closing Statement


HIV and AIDS Conference Closing Statement

Fully funded testing, counselling and treatments must be made available to all Pacific countries say leaders at a Pan Pacific conference on HIV and AIDS.

The closing plenary of the Pan Pacific Regional HIV and AIDS Conference concluded that the following steps were necessary to bring about effective change in the Pacific:

• Access to voluntary confidential testing and counselling in all Pacific Islands.

• Compulsory testing is unacceptable in any circumstances.

• Access to fully funded antri-retroviral medication, and treatment for opportunistic infections available to all HIV positive people in the Pacific.

• That HIV positive people are always equal partners in policy, planning and funding decisions.

• Increased coordination and cooperation between those agencies in the Pacific to maximise the impact of funding.

• That religious leaders take up the challenge presented by HIV and AIDS and discuss sexuality and HIV issues openly and constructively.

Pacific Island AIDS Foundation CEO Marie Bopp Dupont said the conference had been a success.

“The Pacific Islands have made some significant progress in recent years. There is real hope that this conference will give a boost to the energy of people working on HIV/AIDS, because it is vitally necessary.”

She added that anti-retroviral treatments and medicine for opportunistic infections had to be made available across the Pacific urgently.

Pacific Island AIDS Foundation CEO Marie Bopp Dupont said the conference had been a success.

“The Pacific Islands have made some significant progress in recent years. There is real hope that this conference will give a boost to the energy of people working on HIV/AIDS, because it is vitally necessary.”

She added that anti-retroviral treatments and medicine for opportunistic infections had to be made available across the Pacific urgently.

New Zealand AIDS Foundation Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said that funded testing, counselling and treatments were bare minimums that needed to be available across the Pacific.


“It is necessary in the prevention of further infections that testing and counselling are available. And it is essential that medication is accessible to all HIV positive people. It is unacceptable that people are dying in the Pacific while medical technology that would save their lives exists. They must have access to funded treatment.”

Ms Le Mesurier also asked for churches to take up the challenge of discussing sexuality and HIV.

“Some churches in the Pacific have recognised that silence and condemnation of HIV positive people only contributes to the problem. We hope that other NZ churches will follow in their steps and discuss sexuality and sexual health in open constructive ways.”

“We also ask that decision-makers working in the field always, without exception, bring HIV positive people to the table as equal partners in decision making.”

Earlier in the day, President of the Fiji Council of Churches Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho told the conference the HIV and AIDS issue had presented a challenge to churches.

Being confronted with real people who were HIV positive meant they could not ignore the issue.

“In Fiji, I am using my house as a half-way home for positive people.”

“The church’s position has shifted so radically I’m often amazed.” HIV forced church leaders to examine their very religion and their beliefs and the topics

“I would be idealistic to think that all churches have the same attitudes to HIV/AIDS.”

He called on churches around the Pacific and NZ to follow the progressive lead others were taking. Some churches presented HIV positive people as sinners, he said.

“This position is a dangerous one.”

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