13 Jan 2011

Cook Islands PM gives assurance over HIV tests

8:48 pm on 13 January 2011

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has committed to ensuring that human rights standards are met when dealing with those with HIV.

The government had faced condemnation after health ministry officials sought legal advice about whether they could publicly identify the first person to test HIV positive in the Pacific Island nation.

A cabinet meeting was held on Wednesday to address the issue of the first HIV diagnosis.

The government was advised that disclosing person's information would significantly discourage others from coming forward for HIV testing.

Mr Puna says the government will work to ensure that discrimination based on HIV status does not occur in the country.

He urged Cook Islanders to get tested and says their confidentiality will be protected.

The government will work with aid organisations to be vigorous in efforts of prevention and voluntary testing, he said.