11 Jan 2011

Cooks cabinet to be briefed over HIV response

7:49 pm on 11 January 2011

The Cook Islands cabinet will be briefed on the country's first HIV positive case on Tuesday local time amid concern about the Prime Minister's comments on the issue.

In statements made to the Cook Islands News, the Prime Minister Henry Puna has raised the possibility of quarantining or deporting the HIV positive person.

Heather Worth, from the University of New South Wales International HIV Research Group, says those measures would only deter at risk people from testing for HIV, which is what's really needed to prevent the spread of the disease.

She says compassion and not blame should be shown towards those who test positive, as HIV is no respecter of persons.

"HIV falls on good people and bad alike and we must stop blaming those people who test HIV positive because it likely could have been us, except that we were lucky and we didn't use a condom."

Associate Professor Worth says there needs to be more education in schools and community groups about the potential for HIV to spread in a small island community like the Cook Islands.