Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS

South Pacific Situation Summary

The total number of reported HIV positive cases has risen steadily since 1995. Over the recent years, there have been an increasing number of reported HIV cases and AIDS in several countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia and Northern Mariana Islands). As of October 2007, a total of 257 cumulative HIV cases were reported in Fiji.

Data on STI’s in PICs are very limited and collected through passive surveillance. A study of women attending antenatal care in Vanuatu showed that one in three women had an STI, the common STI being Chlamydia infection and Trichomoniasis. The highest rates of infection (up to 50 percent) were found in women below 25 years of age. More than 70 percent of STI cases recorded in STI clinics in Fiji are young people aged 15-25 years. According to a recent STI prevalence survey in Kiribati, 9.3 percent of the seafarers are infected with Chlamydia and 20 percent, with Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2).

Results from second generation surveillance surveys in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in 2005 revealed the following important factors that put the PICs vulnerable to the spread of HIV epidemic:

  • Limited knowledge about how HIV is transmitted;
  • Unsafe sex, such as low rates of condom use, particularly among young people;
  • High rates of multiple and casual partners; and
  • Existence of commercial sex in some settings.

The surveys also indicated found that the average rate of Chlamydia infection among antenatal clinic attendees range from 6 % in the Solomon Islands to 29 % in Fiji.