12 Jun 2013

Huge challenge to educate Tokelauan youths about STIs

6:27 pm on 12 June 2013

A top health official for Tokelau says teaching young people how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections will be a big challenge.

A recent workshop in Samoa brought together health and civil society representatives from three villages to discuss how to get the safe sex message across to young Tokelauans as well as the wider community.

About 20 percent of young people in the country are estimated to have had an STI.

The national co-ordinator for public health, Alipati Tavite, says first of all the authorities will have to find out how much information people have about the infections.

"There'll be huge challenges on the way and we are expecting that. And also we have to talk to the leaders of each community in order for them to be aware of the information that we are trying to convey. It needs to bring it up to the surface. We cannot just ignore that because it is happening."

Alipati Tavite says because most people in Tokelau are devout Catholics it is very difficult to discuss STIs.