President lays down challenge

Published: April 13, 2011

PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has stepped up the fight against HIV/AIDS, challenging Pacific governments to do away with laws that contribute to stigma and discrimination.

He also urged people living with HIV to "stand up, raise your voices and appeal to your governments" to review legislative framework that contributed to stigma and discrimination.

Ratu Epeli, who is also the UN HIV Ambassador for the Pacific, made the call while speaking at a Nadi gathering of HIV positive people from around the Pacific.

He told participants a recent UNICEF Report stated those at the highest risk of HIV infection had one thing in common: their personal status, identity or behaviour were criminalised by law.

"Sex workers and men who have sex with men all face the constant threat of arrest, conviction, and incarceration in our Pacific areas and in many countries," Ratu Epeli said.

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