Report Shows Significant Increase in HIV/AIDS Cases in Papua New Guinea
There was a significant increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases reported in Papua New Guinea between 2005 and 2006, according to a report released on Saturday by the country's National AIDS Council Secretariat, Papua New Guinea's Post-Courier reports. According to the research, 17,568 HIV/AIDS cases were reported last year, compared with 14,428 in 2005. Officials say the numbers might be higher because many HIV/AIDS cases go unreported or are not included in NACS records, the Post-Courier reports. Grace Kariwiga of the Department of Health's Antenatal Surveillance said that the increase primarily is because of issues associated with the management of NACS data collection. She said that 35 women out of 3,514 who received HIV tests at prenatal clinics nationwide were recorded as HIV-positive. Test results for the remainder of the women either were discarded or not recorded, according to Kariwiga. She added that trained laboratory technicians are needed to guarantee that data are accurately gathered at collection sites and properly processed and entered into NACS records. She also said that the shortage of prenatal clinics in most parts of the country is a serious hindrance to curbing the spread of HIV (Post-Courier, 3/25). According to Xinhua/People's Daily, HIV in Papua New Guinea primarily is spread through heterosexual contact. In addition, women rarely have the authority to negotiate condom use, and girls often are subject to rape (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/24). A report released last month by the Australian Centre for Independent Studies estimated that 118,000 people, or 2% of the population, living in Papua New Guinea are HIV-positive and that HIV prevalence will be 18% by 2010 and 25% by 2020. More than one-third of the adult population in the country could die of AIDS-related causes within 20 years if the spread of HIV is not controlled, the report said. The virus also could lead to a decline in the country's economy and labor force, the report said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.