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The Country Director- UNAIDS Miss Renata Ram UNAIDS - HIV/AIDS GOODWILL AMBASSADOR - Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
Senior Health Officials
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Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula Vinaka
Firstly I must thank you for inviting me to open the WORLD AIDS DAY celebrations, which is celebrated globally on the 1 st of December. This year marks a 30th anniversary of the first World Aids Day. Thirty years of activism and solidarity under the banner of WORLD AIDS DAY.

It was in 1981 when the world diagnosed its first case and in 1989 Fiji diagnosed its first case. Today we celebrate 30 years of success towards reducing new HIV infections, reducing AIDS related deaths, preventing mother to child transmission, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing diagnosis and treatment and giving a positive note to life.

While Fiji celebrates WORLD AIDS DAY for various reasons, we also remember those that have succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses, many of whom died because they couldn't either access HIV services, or due to Stigma and Discrimination. We also acknowledge those that are currently living with HIV, including their families and communities.

Fiji from the very beginning had faced significant amounts of stigma and discrimination towards people living with and affected by HIV though the picture today is different. We have made significant progress as a nation since the day we saw our first case. One great example is our first diagnosed case of 1989 is still alive and well. Living life to the fullest.

The Fijian government has made commitments towards:
a) Ensuring that all HIV positive patients are made available with free medications for HIV since 2004.
b) HIV counseling and testing services are free for all
c) Fiji has endorsed and implemented the FIJI HIV Decree in 2011 which protects the rights of persons infected or affected by HIV, including the right of an unborn child.
d) Moving towards testing and treatment of all HIV cases, prolonging life and giving them an
opportunity to enjoy life positively.
e) Our former President- Honorable Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has been and continues to be an advocate for HIV In Fiji and the Asia Pacific Region.
While the list can go on, an important priority area has been to ensure linkage of national programs to the global agenda.

The Fijian Government through the MHMS is committed to Strengthen and Implement the Global Health Sector Strategies for HIV/AIDS, Viral hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) and the Fast Track Strategy of 90, 90, 90 of UNAIDS which is reflected in the Ministries HIV & STI Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

Apart from the Government's commitment to HIV, we have in Fiji our partners who significantly contribute to our efforts in curbing the issues of STI's and HIV, some such partners are WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAIDS, spc, UNFPA, other government and non-organizations, civil society, faith based organisations and most importantly the Fiji Network of Positive people. Their support includes but is not limited to funding, technical but also preventative program implementation at the community

Fiji as of July 2018 has recorded a cumulative statistics of 919 cases, with more than 80 cases diagnosed per year since 2015. This increase is a result of the decentralized services that Fiji initiated in 2015, where all sub-divisional hospitals starting confirming their own cases rather than sending it to one central point in Suva...(possible further data that Dr Torika can add to this ) HIV in Fiji affects a varied range of people, though close to 7080% are youths who fall within the age group of 20-39 years of age.

To address the rising number of HIV cases in Fiji, the ministry of health and medical services has embarked towards the global strategy of 90, 90, 90. Where we wanting to test 90% of our population, of which we want 90% on treatment and hoping to see that 90% of those on treatment are virally suppressed. Where testing becomes the gateway to treatment, and effective treatment is a great HIV prevention tool, it saves lives and prevents HIV transmission.

The theme, "Know your status," highlights a key instrument to addressing HIV in Fiji. Today we also launch the, "TEST4KFJ," where we intent to test 4,000 youths who have been seen to be the most vulnerable population for HIV infection here. The benefits of knowing your status are:
a) Testing saves lives
b) Knowing earlier, starting earlier
c) Staying HIV free
d) Looking after loved one's
e) Stopping transmission to babies
f) Claiming the right to health
g)Staying alive and well

HIV is not a death sentence, treatment has been a game changer in this. I leave today challenging all Fijians to not do business as usual. To move out of our comfort zones and step up in our overall response to HIV in Fiji. We need to step up and step out to make the difference the country needs.

Let me end by quoting the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michele Sidibe, "the fight against HIV and AIDS is not over, we have miles to go, 9.5 million men, women, children are not accessing treatment, they are not capable of protecting themselves, their families and partners because they do not know there status. Testing is so important, because when you are tested positive, you can have access to treatment, and can protect yourselves, your partner & families. If you are negative you can have access to preventative measures, knowledge and skills which will keep you negative.

Live life positively, know your HIV status."

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