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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pacific ministers kick start three day meeting over HIV/Aids in Auckland

Pacific Island attorney generals and health ministers have begun a three day conference in Auckland yesterday to examine ways of ensuring their countries' laws adequately protect the rights of people living with HIV.

Prominent Australian judge Justice Michael Kirby opened the three-day conference yesterday. The organisers, the United Nations Development Programme's Pacific Centre, Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team and UNAIDS, will present human rights-based drafting instructions for legislative reform for ministers to look at.

Preliminary reviews of current legislation in 15 Pacific Island countries relevant to HIV issues will also be examined, particularly as they relate to discrimination, ethics, access to treatment and privacy/confidentiality issues.

The 15 Pacific countries involved are Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and Cook Islands.

HIV infections are growing in the Pacific region and HIV is increasingly becoming an important concern for governments. UNAIDS in its 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic identified an estimated 78,000 people in the Pacific - including from Australia and New Zealand - were living with HIV in 2005, representing an increase of 12,000 from 2003.

Source: SMH

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