January 25, 2011
Fiji's Labor Ministry has created a dedicated HIV/AIDS unit as part of its National Occupational Health and Safety & Workers Compensation Service, officials said Friday. The unit will assist people living with HIV/AIDS, engage in targeted awareness campaigns, and train high-risk populations about HIV prevention.
While HIV prevalence is comparatively low in Fiji by global standards, annual diagnoses grew exponentially from four in 1989 to 333 in 2009, said Labor Minister Filipe Bole. In a good sign, antiretroviral treatment is high among those eligible, he noted.
Persons at greatest risk of infection are residents ages 30 to 49. That those most affected are in their prime earning years highlights the importance of workplace prevention strategies, Bole said.
"Now that the Fiji government has put in place all the necessary national policies, laws, and institutions to effectively combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in both the workplaces and the general public, the real fight will be on efforts to change the values and behaviors of our workers, employers, and the general public," Bole said.