Papua New Guinea: Government Ratchets Up Fight Against AIDS
December 14, 2007
While experts have long warned that Papua New Guinea (PNG) faces a sub-Saharan-style AIDS epidemic if it did not do more to fight the disease's spread, only recently did the government begin heeding these calls for action.
According to UNAIDS, PNG is the fourth Asia-Pacific nation "after Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar to be classified as having a generalized HIV epidemic." In August, PNG's National AIDS Council released its 2007 report showing a 30 percent rise in new diagnoses from 2005 to 2006, bringing the total cumulative number of cases to 18,484. The report also found that the national HIV prevalence among people ages 15-49 is 1.28 percent.
In response, the government in November increased AIDS funding in its 2008 national budget to 15 million kina (US $4.6 million) from 12 million kina (US $3.7 million) in 2007.
The Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research said recently that "like many countries, [PNG] was slow to realize the enormity of what HIV was to mean for its citizens and the development of it as a country." "After coming to grips with the epidemic's potential, the government has been working in partnership with non-governmental organizations, aid agencies and faith-based organizations," it said.
The government has also directed the country's AIDS minister, Sasa Zibe, and his vice minister, Yawa Silupa, to oversee various multi-sector programs and offer advice as to how the government should address the epidemic.
Inter Press Service
12.05.2007; Kevin Pamba
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.