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Ratu Epeli: AIDS Situation Here in Precarious State

Ratu Epeli: AIDS Situation Here in Precarious State
Former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Australian Rugby International Israel Folau.
April 29
11:49 2018

University of Fiji Chancel­lor Ratu Epeli Nailatikau believes that the HIV AIDS situation in the country is in a pre­carious state and is ready to burst.

He made the statement on Friday while addressing the 272 Universi­ty of Fiji graduates at Saweni Cam­pus in Lautoka, based on newly found HIV/AIDS cases that were reported from 2004 to 2017.

The numbers have been fluctuat­ing from as low as 40 new cases in 2004 to 60 new cases in 2017.

“From the 40 new cases in 2004, it dropped to 33 new cases in 2005, then a fall to 22 new cases in 2006, a rise in 28 new cases in 2007, fur­ther rise to 30 new cases in 2008, a rise again to 33 new cases in 2009, then 34 new cases in 2010, a steep rise to 51 new cases in 2011, a fur­ther rise to 61 new cases in 2012, a further rise to 67 new cases in 2013, a slight fall to 64 new cases in 2014, further rise to 71 new cases in 2015, a slight fall to 57 new cases in 2016 and a further rise to 60 new cases in 2017,” the former Fijian Presi­dent said.

“The 2017 reports have yet to be verified and certified. All those fig­ures make up to a total of 732 new cases in Fiji so far, not only in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, but in some of the other islands as well. HIV is spreading.

“This is a dire situation for a small country like Fiji with a popu­lation of 898,760.”

Ratu Epeli said the majority were between the ages of 19 and 29 years, not only from heterosexual but from homosexual encounters as well.

Good news

“The good news is that there are now over 300 people currently re­ceiving anti-retroviral drugs, so I am calling on the powers-that-be, on the HIV board of Fiji, to imme­diately convene a meeting of all stakeholders,” he said.

“But more importantly to include the current holders of doctors and sisters at HIV hub centres of Suva, Lautoka and Labasa.”

Ratu Epeli said they could be looking hard at the situation Fiji was in and take immediate steps to counter it.

Israel Folau ‘gay’ comments

Meanwhile, he condemned Israel Folau’s homophobic comments “for gay people to go to hell”.

“I condemn the anti-gay and big­oted statement made by Israel Folau, the Australian Rugby Inter­national,” Ratu Epeli said.

As Fijian ambassador for the Les­bian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), Ratu Epeli said: “As a Christian, he should not be spreading hate, but have a love of the compassionate kind and inclusion.

“Those statements were not called for as it incited hate and discrimi­nation towards the LGBTI society.”

Mr Folau, the star Wallaby full­back, came under fire recently after posting some comments to­wards the LGBTI community on his Instagram account.

His comments were publicly branded as homophobic and anti-gay. Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: peni.komaisavai@fijisun.com.fj

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