12 Jan 2011

Cook Islands govt condemned over attitude to HIV case

9:17 am on 12 January 2011

The Cook Islands government is facing international condemnation for its treatment of the first person to test HIV positive there.

Ministers are meeting on Wednesday to discuss what to do with the person, a foreigner, believed to be male.

Ministry of Health officials sought legal advice about whether they could publicly identify the person, but backed down after health campaign groups intervened.

HIV campaigners are now worried by a suggestion from Prime Minister Henry Puna that the person be quarantined or deported.

The National HIV Committee and the Pacific Islands Aids Foundation say such treatment will deter others from getting tested for the virus.

Amnesty International New Zealand says it will write to Mr Puna to spell out possible human rights violations.