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AIDS Adviser Accuses Fiji Authorities Of Breach

AIDS Adviser Accuses Fiji Authorities Of Breach Of Confidentiality

STAFF REPORTERS: May 26, 2002 Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, May 26 (Pasifik Nius): A community AIDS adviser has accused Fiji health authorities of breach of confidentiality over a public admission that two HIV prostitutes were still walking the streets knowing they had the virus.

Quoted in a "One-to-one" interview in the Sunday Post today, Jane Tyler of the AIDS Task Force Centre, a non-government organisation, said: "This is an enormous breach of confidentiality.

"They should not be disclosing the occupation of anyone who is HIV positive.

"So I feel that there has been a breach to begin with and I think that was something that shouldn't have really happened."

The comments followed media revelations last week that HIV/AIDS-infected sex workers had not been followed up by health authorities after the two women delivered their babies at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital last year.

Tyler said that Fiji needed to do much more to boost HIV/AIDS awareness programmes in the country.

"I think there's an enormous amount to be done but it it's not only the Ministry of Health to be involved in the implementation of AIDS programmes.

"We need to have a multi-sectoral response and one of the questions we need to look on is do we have sufficient education for young people at school?

"Does it give them complete accurate information so that they can understand what the issues are and make sure that they are provided with enough information so that they know how to prevent themselves from being infected?

"That's where we need to begin and that should be happening at primary school."

Asked by the Sunday Post what steps could be taken to prevent people who were HIV positive, the prostitutes for example, knowingly infecting others, Tyler said:

"This is a very difficult question because very many communities have difficulty in accepting that there is sex work in the community.

"If they talk about it, what they want to do is just eradicate it. If you have the police trying to get all of the sex workers off the streets, all they do is set up business around another corner," she said.

"There have been quite a few effective responses related to sex workers in countries where it's not accepted but the authorities know that it happens where they have actually regulated sex work.

"And one of the things to look at is not putting the blame on the sex workers but looking at the responsibility of the clients also."


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