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Joint Australia-France HIV and STI initiative for Pacific Islands.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA 03 041 18 July 2003

Joint Australia-France HIV and STI initiative for Pacific Islands

I am pleased to announce a further initiative by Australia to target the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the Pacific region.

Australia will contribute up to $1.8 million over five years to develop and implement a regional strategy on HIV/AIDS. This will be a joint initiative with the Government of France, which is contributing a similar amount.

Our joint initiative with France is timely. While small by global standards, the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Pacific has recently risen sharply in some countries. If unchecked, it could become the major development problem in the Pacific region.

In the Pacific region HIV is primarily a heterosexually transmitted infection and the high prevalence of other STI underscores the risk of a fast-onset, widespread HIV epidemic.

The initiative will address the development of a regional HIV/AIDS strategy, improved management of epidemiological and behavioural data and strengthening of behaviour change programs that target risk behaviours.

The initiative will also expand surveillance, training and prevention activities to take in all 22 member-countries of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community which will be a partner agency in implementing the initiative.

At the Pacific Forum in August 2002, heads of Pacific island governments reiterated their concern at the threat posed to their countries by HIV/AIDS.

Australia is pleased to join with the France to respond to their call for additional measures at the regional level.

Contacts: Andrew Park(Minister's office) 02 6277 7500 or 0418 253 285 Jo Elsom (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489