Urban boom and its bang on HIV

Published: July 25, 2014

 MELBOURNE, Australia – His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the president of Fiji, wears his emotions on his sleeve, or more appropriately, his lapel. Nailatikau can be seen wearing the red ribbon that symbolizes the HIV struggle every day, even when it is not World AIDS Day in December.

It was not surprising to see him wearing it during a local government officials’ session organized by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne.

Studies show that HIV prevalence is estimated to be 1.5 – 2 times higher in urban areas than in rural ones. Up to 60% of the 35 million people living with HIV live in cities.

The government officials were gathered to discuss city-based government led HIV interventions in their home countries.

In the case of Nailatikau, the HIV/AIDS prevention begins in school.

FIJI: Students get schooled on HIV by the President

Nailatikau takes HIV and AIDS seriously and personally – the president personally goes around the different secondary schools in the country to “tell the kids how it is." And how “it” is says the president is, if you have sex without a condom, you could get pregnant and get HIV.

He says he has a simple formula: he speaks to the secondary school students about HIV / AIDS and condom use for about an hour, then he takes questions from both parents and students for about another hour.

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