3 Nov 2005

EU director suggests Pacific coalition against HIV/AIDS

9:11 pm on 3 November 2005

The director of the European Union's Pacific Office says there should be a coalition of NGOs and government departments to address the HIV/AIDS problem in the Pacific.

Anders Henriksson says Pacific Island countries need to address the issue of HIV/AIDS while it still has a chance.

Mr Henriksson travelled to the Solomons this week and met with the prime minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, where he expressed his concern at the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

He says local leaders need to realise that the issue is not just one of public health, because the virus can have drastic economic effects as well.

"This is a sensitive issue obviously in the Solomon Islands and in other countries, and we recognise that, but our experience from Africa is that we're not going to see significant progress in addressing this issue if there is not political leadership as well as assistance from external partners. There has to be a coalition against HIV/AIDS in the Solomon Islands and in the Pacific region."

Mr Henriksson says the EU could help implement such a coalition if called upon.