Declaration an avenue for the voiceless

Published: September 1, 2011

A POLITICAL declaration on HIV/AIDS by the United Nations was hailed as an avenue for voiceless men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs and the sex workers.

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said the declaration, which Fiji was party to in June this year in New York, carried the voices of women and girls who were often denied control over their bodies.

The declaration offered a say for those denied a voice in decision-making and who were denied protection from violence, he said.

"We, as representatives from the global community ù the family ù as leaders in our own right need to respond to these voices irrespective of the faith we confess, the morals we uphold, the social classes we belong to and the political affiliations that we hold dear," Ratu Epeli said.

Speaking at the opening of the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Korea last Friday, he said the declaration meant a lot for innocent children who were born with HIV and the 15 million people who needed life saving treatment by 2015.

"For the Pacific and the Asia region, on the often tricky issue of culture, all states should not aid in the construction of walls around communities but rather focus on bringing the walls down and providing full support for integration," he said.

Ratu Epeli led a 20-member Fiji delegation to the world’s second largest gathering on HIV/AIDS in Busan, Korea last week.

The ICAAP comes after the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS (HLM took place in June in New York.

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