15 Jan 2004

Fiji may declare AIDS a security issue

9:18 am on 15 January 2004

Health authorities in Fiji say HIV/AIDS is such a concern it is likely to be declared a national security issue in the country.

The Ministry of Health's HIV/AIDS project officer, Dr Jiko Luveni, says the Fiji government has doubled its budget this year in a bid to tackle the problem.

"The Prime Minister is maybe going to declare a national security issue, this HIV/AIDS in Fiji. I think the paper has been prepared and its just in his office at the moment. I think with that paper it has been recommended that the advisory committee on HIV/AIDS be chaired by the Prime Minister himself once this national security issue been declared."

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office said she was unable to comment because the matter had not been made official.

Meanwhile, the government has received United Nations funding to begin distributing retroviral drugs to patients, but many are reluctant to take them because of the side effects.

There are 129 reported cases of the virus in Fiji, however Dr Luveni there are likely to be at least three thousand infected.