October 30, 2012
Two married couples have left their village in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, after villagers visited their homes and asked them to leave. The two husband- and-wife couples tested positive with the HIV virus at the local health office, and local residents informed them that they should move to other villages that could accept them. Mr. Jodi, head of the HIV/AIDS community at Penajam Paser Utara, said that information about the couples' HIV status spread through the village after one of the health officials mentioned it to a friend. Based on the law, their status should have remained confidential. Adi Supriadi, HIV/AIDS program head at the East Kalimantan-based Laras Foundation, noted that lack of awareness about the transmission of the virus was behind the villagers' forcing the two couples to leave, and that the government needs to better educate the public about the virus. Indonesia has one of the fastest-growing HIV transmission rates in Asia, with the World Health Organization estimating that there are 300,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The worst affected areas are Jakarta and the province of Papua, where 2.3 percent of the population is infected.