18 Nov 2003

French Polynesia to test pregnant women to fight HIV/AIDS

4:26 pm on 18 November 2003

The French Polynesian health minister, Armelle Merceron, has proposed that all pregnant women be tested for the HIV virus in a bid to contain the virus.

Speaking after attending last week's Pacific Community conference in Suva, Mrs Merceron said French Polynesia was managing to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS but she said the situation was catastrophic in countries like Papua New Guinea.

She says her government would increase its assistance to help other Pacific countries fight AIDS.

Mrs Merceron told the Tahitipresse news agency that in the past year French Polynesia registered nine new cases of HIV, but said seven of the carriers arrived from outside the territory.

She says in the past ten years, French Polynesia has had 229 people registered with HIV/AIDS, of whom 59 have died and 80 left the territory.