21 AUGUST 2008 RAROTONGA (Pacnews) ------ The Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation has applauded the prompt response of the Cook Islands Government, criticising recent statements made by Niue’s Director of Health, Dr Sitaleki Finau.
PIAF is now calling on Niue Premier, Toke Talagi, and all leaders currently attending the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Summit in Niue, to stand up against such counterproductive approaches to HIV and AIDS. Dr Finau told PACNEWS in Niue this week that people living with HIV/AIDS “should be locked up in a colony, where people living with the virus are looked after by their own peers, also people living with HIV/AIDS”.
PIAF CEO, Maire Bopp, said Dr Finau's statement was an unacceptable affront to human dignity, and is particularly disappointing coming from a member of the medical profession. “Such statements are an insult to those of us living with HIV and our families, and also represent an entirely misguided and ineffective approach to managing the spread of the disease,” she said.
PIAF Board Member and Secretary General of Cook Islands Red Cross, Niki Rattle, added that such statements were “unforgivable” and represented ‘archaic thinking and inhumane treatment of human beings who have the same rights to the same care, support and treatment as a person with diabetes, brain damage from drink and driving, and so on’.
“With all the awareness raising and education the world has had on HIV, Discrimination and Stigmatization have been identified to be the killer rather than the virus,” said Mrs Rattle…….PNS (ENDS)