10 Mar 2004

Fiji chiefs to join fight against HIV/AIDS

7:23 am on 10 March 2004

The Great Council of Chiefs in Fiji has joined the fight against HIV/ AIDS, citing figures revealing that 82 percent of sufferers are indigenous Fijians.

The chairman of the Council, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, signed an agreement with UN AIDS PACIFIC recently during a ceremony in Suva.

The resident representative of the UNDP, Peter Witham, says the battle against AIDS has only been successful in countries which have given open, high level, political support to tackling the problem.

He says countries which have swept the problem under the carpet for cultural or political reasons have found themselves in deep trouble.

Ratu Epeli says tackling the virus is one of its top priorities because of the alarming infection rate among the indigenous population.

The Council will co-host a regional meeting in Nadi next week to draw up strategies to deal with the problem in the Pacific.