Access to HIV testing and treatment is vital: Murphy

March 19, 2024 6:49 am

[File Photo]

Increasing access to HIV testing and treatment services is a key strategy for reducing new infections and deaths.

Regional Director UNAIDS Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe Central Asia Eamonn Murphy says Fiji’s coverage of HIV treatment is among the lowest in the region, with only 28 percent of all people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy.

UNAIDS continues to work with national partners to understand the HIV epidemic trends more clearly and respond accordingly.

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Murphy says the planned biological and behavioural studies scheduled for Fiji this year will improve the understanding of the epidemic’s patterns.

“Often the mistake with communicable diseases is to slow down too much, and then the disease moves forward with the new population, so we need to see a reenergized response at the national level. That’s where the UN through the UNAIDS will provide support but the leadership must come from the country itself.”

Murphy says that with political will and community leadership, Fiji can ensure that all people in need can safely access services to help them prevent HIV, learn their status, and get life-saving treatment.

Minister for Health Dr. Atonio Lalabalavu says they are working with UNAIDS and other partners to finalize the surge strategy.

Dr. Lalabalavu says other agencies are coming on board and assisting Fiji in the procurement of medications.

From January to December 2023, the Ministry recorded 415 new HIV cases in Fiji, attributed to the increase in active case finding with the use of point-of-care testing.