Pacific rugby hero urges young people to make right decision about sex
Written by Administrator
Friday, 17 July 2009
A young Pacific rugby hero is helping to break the culture of silence surrounding sex at the 2nd Pacific Youth Festival in a bid to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Fijian-born Ratu Nemani Driu Nasiganiyavi (21) who plays professional rugby for the New South Wales Waratahs, is encouraging young people to think through things before they make a decision on sex.
Ratu Nemani is at the festival, which is being held in Suva, Fiji, from 11–18 July, as part of an HIV awareness and prevention campaign that aims to empower youth delegates to make the right decisions regarding their sexual behaviour.
He says young women and men must decide for themselves whether they want to have sex or not and if they do choose to have sex, then they need to know the risks and use a condom.
‘It’s something we all need to know about. I’ve been speaking mainly to guys my age who giggle and smile like it doesn’t affect them, but what I can do is to make them aware regardless of the reactions I get,’ he says.
Ratu Nemani believes he can use the popularity of rugby to influence his peers at the festival. ‘Everyone here loves rugby, so it’s a great tool to gain attention for creating awareness on HIV.’
He also wants to encourage parents to talk about issues relating to sexuality with their children in order to help them make the right decisions.
‘Despite the fact that we’re able to talk about everything else with our parents, we don’t talk about HIV because it involves sex,’ he says. ‘We need [their] support if we are to navigate safely in the Pacific.’
Ratu Nemani is keen to continue his ambassador role promoting HIV awareness in the Pacific. ‘You can’t change something overnight. We’re setting the foundations now and I feel obliged to continue.’
Campaign coordinator Jovesa Saladoka, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Behaviour Change Communication Officer, says the safe festival campaign focuses on skills building through information dissemination, media outreach and peer education.
‘It’s about our young people taking charge of what is a major issue in the Pacific,’ he says.
The campaign has been designed specifically for the youth festival by young people from around the region in collaboration with the Fiji Ministry of Health and National Advisory Committee for HIV and AIDS, the United Nations Population Fund and SPC.
In addition to the campaign, seminars and workshops on HIV-related topics such as reproductive and sexual health, are being held as part of the main festival programme.
Around 300 young people from 13 Pacific Island countries and territories are attending the festival.
The Pacific Youth Festival is a week-long event held every three years. It aims to bring young people in the region together to discuss, share and highlight youth concerns and youth programmes that address these concerns.
The main events at the festival include presentations, panel discussions and workshops on various youth issues. The festival also facilitates inter-regional communication and network building opportunities. Side events include cultural performances and sports.
For more information please contact Jovesa Saladoka, SPC Behaviour Change Communication Officer by phone: +679 937 7077 or email:
or Tione Chinula, Human Development Programme Advocacy and Communications Officer by phone: +679 976 3877 or email:
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 July 2009 )