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The fight against HIV/AIDS

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THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services aims to increase the number of voluntary confidential counselling and testing services in the country this year.

In her official address at the AIDS awards ceremony in Suva last week, assistant Health Minister Veena Bhatnagar said HIV/AIDS awareness was important as they were prevalent in our society today.

"In fact, it has been a rising public health issue affecting the lives of people in Fiji for years since the start of these diseases in 1989 in Fiji," Ms Bhatnagar said.

"It is very important that public is aware of HIV/AIDS, how it can be transmitted and what precautions or options they have. Awareness and knowledge is the key to empower an individual over the fight against HIV. The ministry remains committed towards raising awareness on HIV and as such, we have the Sexual Reproductive Health hubs around the country that provide counselling, referrals and navigation of services.

"Apart from this, we aim to increase the number of voluntary confidential counselling and testing so that people are aware of their status and what this means for themselves and their loved ones."

Getting tested, Ms Bhatnagar added, would allow for early intervention which could prevent possible parent to child transmissions of HIV and allowed people living with such diseases to have much more sustainable and healthy lives.

"This is done through invigorating antiretroviral therapy and pregnant HIV positive mother programs."

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