Examining the social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Pacific countries could help improve the lives of those affected by the disease in the region, Langi Kavaliku, chair of the Commission of AIDS in the Pacific, said recently at the commission's inaugural meeting in Fiji, the Pacific News Agency Service reports.
The meeting aims to determine how the newly formed commission can be most effective at fighting HIV/AIDS in the region, Stuart Watson, UNAIDS coordinator for the Pacific Islands, said (Pacific News Agency Service, 11/27). According to Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau -- Fiji's interim minister for labor, tourism and environment -- about 75,000 people in the region are living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 14,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2006.
Rounds-Ganilau at the meeting said that efforts to fight the virus in the Pacific have been ineffective and that "revved-up programs energized by bold leadership and a committed drive for social mobilization" are needed to fight HIV. Countries in the region also should honor their commitments to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, Rounds-Ganilau added (Fiji Times, 11/27). Members of the commission at the meeting will compile information on HIV prevalence in the region, discuss prevention and treatment efforts, and examine the need for political leaders and community-based groups to work together, Kavaliku said. The commission's findings will be summarized in a future UNAIDS report, he added (Pacific News Agency Service, 11/27).
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