24 Mar 2004

Fiji police and military defend AIDS programmes

5:47 am on 24 March 2004

Fiji's military and police have rejected claims that they do not have adequate AIDs awareness programmes for their officers going abroad on peace keeping duties.

Radio station Legend says the concerns have been raised at a Pacific Aids Awareness conference currently underway near Nadi.

But the military chief staff officer for training and doctrine, Lt Col Jack Evans, says they have had appropriate programmes for a long time.

He says all pre-deployment training includes orientation by health staff and briefings on the potential illnesses in that country.

Lt Col Jackson says they also conduct post deployment blood tests if the country where troops have served has a high incidence of HIV/AIDs.

For the police, a spokesman says the force has systems in place to ensure that officers going overseas are fully aware of HIV/AIDs and are tested on their return.

Last year, Fiji had 142 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDs but the real figure is believed to be in the thousands.