3 Jul 2006

Pacific Governments chided by NGO for not doing enough to combat AIDs

8:09 pm on 3 July 2006

HIV/AIDS experts say Pacific Island governments are not doing enough about the epidemic sweeping the region.

The Pacific Islands Aids Foundation - which celebrates its third anniversary this week - says the number of HIV cases in the region is almost doubling every five years.

The head of the Cook-Islands based organisation, Maire Bopp, says that while there are officially 12,000 cases, the number is significantly higher.

Ms Bopp, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, says governments in the region have been too slow to react.

"The difference between and HIV positive and an HIV negative person is really only a blood test away. If they wait until HIV hits them on a personal level to tackle this virus, tomorrow we will have more people in this situation and they would have played a major role.'"

Maire Bopp says the foundation's main achievement has been to put a face to the virus by encouraging more HIV positive people to speak out about it.