1 Oct 2002

Mandela may come to Pacific to promote awareness of HIV/AIDsl

6:34 pm on 1 October 2002

Nelson Mandela is likely to visit the Pacific to lend his support to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region.

The former South African President told French Polynesian AIDS ctivist Marie Bopp Dupont at a meeting in Johannesburg that he would come if invited.

Mr Mandela had invited Ms Bopp Dupont and her parents to Johannesburg after meeting her at this year's AIDs conference in Spain.

She says if Mr Mandela was to come to the Pacific it would draw attention to the critical focus the region's leaders and communities need to give to HIV treatment and care.

Ms Bopp-Dupont says the region still has problems dealing with the cost of treatment, discrimination and the education of the public about the disease.

She says she will speak with other organisations in the region on possible host countries and dates before the formal invitation to the Mandela Foundation is sent.