AIDS Threatens to Destroy Pacific Cultures: UN
October 25, 2005
Today in Auckland at the opening of a Pan Pacific Regional HIV/AIDS conference, the chief of UNICEF's New Zealand office said the epidemic is threatening to "annihilate all the development achievements in the past 30 years, and it will be children and young people who suffer the greatest impact."
"Whereas a great deal of discussion has focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, not much attention has been paid to small island nations such as the South Pacific, where a rapid HIV epidemic could jeopardize the very survival of peoples, languages and nations," Dennis McKinlay told some 450 delegates. Progress against HIV/AIDS is still possible in the region, he said, "but that window is closing fast."
Gillian Mellsop, head of UNICEF, South Pacific, stressed the role of prevention. "A major cause for alarm is that the majority of new infections occurring among young adults are among women, threatening to lead to more generalized epidemics," she said. Stigma, a shortage of testing sites, and lack of confidentiality are causing cases to go unreported, Mellsop said.
In Papua New Guinea, the UN estimates 40,000 people are infected. In other Pacific Island countries, a total of 1,028 cases have been reported. But the region's real burden, according to the World Health Organization, is likely 10 to 30 times that figure. When that formula is applied, several Asia-Pacific nations are near the point of a generalized epidemic, Mellsop said.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.