17 Apr 2010

Pacific people with HIV and AIDS still face discrimination - AIDS summit hears

11:21 am on 17 April 2010

An AIDS summit in the Marshall Islands has been told Pacific islanders with HIV and AIDS still face heavy discrimination within their communities.

People in Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands say that in addition to grappling with health problems associated with HIV and AIDS, infected islanders have to contend with being ostracised.

Four islanders who are HIV positive or have a family member with the virus spoke at the Pacific Island Jurisdictions AIDS Action Group summit that brought together nine countries in the region.

The discrimination forced the family of Cathy Samuel, an islander from Chuuk in FSM, to move from one island to another to get away from the stigma in a strongly Christian society of having a family member who died from AIDS.

She says the testimony suggests that while hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested globally in HIV education and prevention, remote islanders remain in the dark about HIV.