40 New HIV+ Cases This Year: Akbar
Fiji has recorded 43 newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases since the beginning of this year, it was revealed yesterday.
Minister for Health and Medical Services, Rosy Akbar, made this revelation while officiating at the World Aids Day celebration at Churchill Park, Lautoka.
The new cases bring to a total of 725 confirmed HIV cases since the first case was diagnosed in 1989.
This is an average of about 20 new cases per year, Ms Akbar said.
With these figures, Ms Akbar said: “That is an average of more than four cases per month! Fiji continues to have an increase in the number of new HIV infections especially amongst our young people from the ages of 19-29 years.”
Ms Akbar said World Aids Day served as an important reminder that the epidemic was still around and more should be done to increase awareness and eliminate prejudice.
“Through a collaborative effort we have been able to have success stories despite the increase in new HIV infections.”
She said the Ministry had been able to expand its HIV testing sites from one to 13.
“These testing sites do not only screen for HIV but they also conduct confirmatory tests which reduce the turnaround time for our HIV results.”
Today, there are 320 HIV positive cases in Fiji initiated on antiretroviral treatment.
The number of people on treatment has slowly grown since the introduction of antiretroviral treatment in 2010, Ms Akbar said.
She said they hope to get more people living with Aids on treatment and keep them on treatment.
“Although we continue to have new HIV infections amongst our young adults, Fiji has been able to reduce new HIV infections amongst newborns from HIV positive mothers.
“I am proud to say that Fiji is on the right track of achieving the goals of eliminating Mother to Child Transmission before 2030,” Ms Akbar said.
She acknowledged United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for their support in providing the Ministry with monitoring equipment to monitor patients cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4) counts and most importantly their viral loads.
“Our collaborative response to HIV has brought us all together today. It has created unity amongst us with one common goal – to end AIDS and have an AIDS free Fiji.”
“Unlike many other communicable diseases, HIV prevention is very much within the power of the individual,” Ms Akbar said.
She urged the young populace of Fiji to prevent themselves from becoming infected with the virus by practicing safe sex, be a faithful partner and delay the age as which you first have sex.
Edited by Caroline Ratucadra
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