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Anniversary marked through tribute to HIV positive

Anniversary marked through tribute to HIV positive

The reported number of HIV cases in the Pacific Islands has virtually doubled every five years since 1985. While much of the Pacific Islands are still reporting a minimal number of cases, our island countries are no longer isolated from the reality of HIV.

"There are far more Pacific Islanders living with HIV than we imagine. Today, the anniversary of the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation (PIAF), is really a day to honour them – our HIV positive brothers and sisters -- and say thank you for having faith in us," says Maire Bopp, CEO of PIAF.

Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation was the first regional organization to focus on HIV/AIDS and remains the only regional organization focusing on improving the lives of HIV positive people as well as preventing the spread of further infection. PIAF exists to support HIV positive people in all 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.

On our anniversary, PIAF wishes to pay tribute to the thousands of courageous brothers and sisters across our Pacific Islands who are living with HIV / AIDS, especially to the few heroes who have spoken out publicly. It is through the sharing of these stories that we can put a face to HIV and begin to understand the risks and realities of living with HIV.

"You might think that you are not at risk because you are married, an adult, are smart, are healthy, are cute... but those with HIV felt that way too!" says Bopp. "HIV doesn't show on your face straight away, but it could already be in your blood. Get tested -- that is the only way to knowledge."

The only difference between an HIV positive person and an HIV negative person is a blood test.

PIAF Achievements:
- 32 HIV positive people from seven different Pacific Island countries participated in the AIDS Ambassadors training workshops
- 9 of whom have become public HIV advocates in Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Aotearoa and Papua New Guinea
- 20 HIV positive people received life-saving antiretroviral treatment in Fiji through PIAF's Hardship Grant
- 3 Documentaries sharing personal testimonies from HIV positive people have been made by PIAF and shown in at least 8 Pacific Island countries
- More than 30,000 Pacific Islanders have been sensitized to HIV/AIDS from an HIV positive person through PIAF's AIDS Ambassador program

On 4 July at 11 am (Cook Islands date and time) Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation will be holding a press conference to mark our anniversary.
Chief Executive Officer Maire Bopp, and Board of Trustees Robert Worthington (CI/Hawaii), Patrick Leboucher (Tahiti Nui) and Niki Rattle (CI) will be present to talk about PIAF and the changing face of HIV in the Pacific.

ENDS

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