1 Mar 2003

Fiji's GCC shocked at AIDS figures

9:12 am on 1 March 2003

The chairman of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, has expressed shock at the high incidence of HIV/AIDS among indigenous Fijians.

The Fiji Sun says a workshop in Suva this week was told that of the 111 cases of HIV/AIDS in Fiji, 80 percent are indigenous Fijians, 15 percent Indians and five percent of other races.

Health officials said the figures had soared to 111 from just 10 in the year 2000.

Ratu Epeli says the indigenous people are most at risk of catching communicable diseases, especially in the urban area because of their communal lifestyle.

He says people overwhelmed by the freedom available in an urban environment lose their discipline and become statistics in the rising crime and drug related cases conducive to sexually related diseases and the HIV/AIDS virus.

Ratu Epeli says despite all that Fijians have experienced since the military coups of 1987, it seems fate has dealt them another cruel blow by this potential epidemic.