11 Mar 2004

UNDP opposed to compulsory AIDS testing in Fiji

2:38 pm on 11 March 2004

The United Nations Development Programme has come out strongly against the introduction of compulsory testing for the HIV/AIDS virus in Fiji.

This follows statements by the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, and senior health ministry officials that they were considering legislation to make such tests compulsory because of the growing number of infections in Fiji

But the UNDP's resident representative in Suva, Peter Witham, has told the Fiji Times the UN is totally against this.

Mr Witham says there is no action that can be taken and people cannot be locked up if they are found to be positive or have had it from birth.

As well, he says countries which have introduced compulsory tests have driven the HIV population underground.

Mr Witham says the third reason is the cost which would take up such a large part of Fiji's health budget that little money would be left for other health services.

Mr Witham has commended the Great council of Chiefs for joining the UN in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission warned this week that compulsory tests for the virus would breach the human rights provisions of the 1997 Constitution.