Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

International News
Pacific Fight Against AIDS Hampered by Shame, Ignorance

April 21, 2010

At an AIDS conference in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro last week, representatives from US-affiliated Pacific Island nations discussed HIV stigma and its impact on prevention and treatment.


In 2008, 29,629 HIV cases were reported in the predominantly Christian Pacific Island nations. Papua New Guinea logged 28,294, though UNAIDS said a full count could be closer to 54,000. Levels of under-reporting in the rest of the region are most likely similar, the agency said.

Many meeting attendees shared their stories of living with HIV/AIDS. Temo Sasau of Fiji said that when he told his supervisors he was HIV-positive, his pay was withheld, despite having worked at the business for 11 years. Sasua, who now works for the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation, said more openness is needed to ensure that those who are infected seek treatment.

Cathy Samuel from the atoll of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia said her family was forced to move to another island due to the "embarrassment" of having a relative die of AIDS. "People think everyone with HIV is a sinner and that God will not forgive them," said Samuel.

Zachraias Zachraias, director of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health's HIV program, noted that discrimination makes it difficult for people to discuss the disease publicly. "Thank you for your courage to help the people in this room in the fight against HIV/AIDS," he told those who had spoken out.

Back to other news for April 2010

Excerpted from:
Agence France Presse

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.