Concerns over rise in Pacific HIV infections

A Tongan-based non-profit organisation claims HIV infection rates in the Pacific region are on the rise.

Reports in recent years noted that cases of HIV were decreasing steadily in the Pacific after a 2008 United Nations report estimated that 54,000 people in Papua New Guinea were living with HIV.

According to RNZI, the Chairman of the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network, Joey Joleen Mataele, says there's still a taboo around HIV or AIDS in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Fiji which does contribute to the spread of the disease.

Joey Joleen Mataele says HIV appears to be spreading again as confusion over religious beliefs leads to unprotected sex being common practice.

'The HIV in the Pacific I cannot say it has gone down, but it has increased in some Pacific islands especially in the Melanesian countries," she said.

"Especially when it comes to condom use, they don't believe in using condoms in a lot of places in the Pacific."