Rapid expansion of HIV testing and treatment

March 25, 2024 4:26 pm

Health Minister Dr Atonio Lalabalavu has revealed pivotal advancements in Fiji’s HIV response, highlighting imminent strategies to combat the pandemic.

Collaboration with inter-ministerial agencies, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders is deemed essential in executing these strategies.

Stressing urgency, Dr Lalabalavu highlights intensified efforts on the ground including rapid expansion of point-of-contact testing and bolstering antiretroviral (ARV) drug supplies.

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Stock levels are reported as sufficient with additional procurement underway to meet rising demands.

“But now what we have on the ground is currently increasing our point of contact testing and also in terms of the medications. I have been briefed that we have adequate stock but we are also adding more to the numbers.”

Health Minister Dr Atonio Lalabalavu

Dr Lalabalavu emphasized the tireless work of Fiji’s Family Health team in combating HIV domestically and the critical partnership with UNAIDS.

Addressing inquiries on mandatory HIV testing, Dr. Lalabalavu refrained from confirmation emphasizing the Ministry’s commitment to individual rights while prioritizing proactive testing and treatment strategies.

With HIV cases on the rise, the Minister states that Fiji faces a mounting challenge, urging immediate action.

Meanwhile, last year, Fiji witnessed a concerning surge in HIV cases with 415 new infections reported compared to 245 in 2022.

Among these, 404 cases affected adults, while 11 impacted children with three children acquiring HIV through sexual transmission and eight through Mother-To-Child Transmission.

Thirty-one cases were reported among teenagers aged 15 to 19 attributed to intensified case identification efforts using Point of Care Testing by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Eighty-two lives were lost to HIV in Fiji last year.

This surge has propelled Fiji into the top two countries in the Asia-Pacific region dealing with new HIV infections, according to the Global AIDS Monitoring Report.

The Ministry highlights activities such as Blue Toothing for IV drug users and Chem-Sex among the youth as significant contributors to this alarming trend.