Increasing Number of STIs Put Fiji Youth at Risk of HIV/AIDS, Health Official Says
Recent statistics from Fiji's Health Ministry on Sexually Transmitted Infections are a cause for concern, and the high rate of STIs among people ages 20 to 29 put them at an increased risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, Fiji's Director of Public Health Josaia Samuela said recently, the Fiji Times reports. Statistics gathered over the past eight years by the ministry show that gonorrhea and syphilis are the most frequently reported STIs in the country, which Samuela said "highlights the underlying concern of unsafe sexual behavior among young people" and the "same high-risk behavior for the transmission of HIV." He also said that "sex is serious business" and that "[a]nyone, especially young people, who participates does so at their risk, in view of the sad consequences of infection from so many STIs including HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility."
According to the Times, the 1,024 treated gonorrhea cases in 2007 were the highest Fiji had seen in five years and an increase compared with the 416 treated cases in 2006. Statistics also show an increase in the number of treated syphilis cases from 2006 to 2007, with 567 and 940 cases, respectively. Last year, the ministry recorded 1,338 gonorrhea and 1,123 syphilis cases, rates that Samuela called "very high" for Fiji. "The most affected are in the productive times of their lives, could be studying in tertiary institutions or earning money through employment," Samuela said, adding that the issue of sexual behavior is "very complex." Sexual behavior becomes an economic and social issue "in terms of treatment, follow-up of partners or contacts for treatment and care," all of which "involve costs, resources, testing equipment and facilities, drugs for treatment," Samuela said (Sakiasi, Fiji Times, 10/6).