Australia Pledges $86M to Indonesia To Fight HIV/AIDS
The Australian government has pledged 100 million Australian dollars, or about $86 million, to improve HIV/AIDS services in Indonesia as part of a partnership between the two countries, according to a statement released on Friday by the Australian Embassy, the ANTARA/Jakarta Post reports.
According to the statement, Australia will work with Indonesian government agencies, including the Papua and West Papua provincial administrations, to oversee and fund HIV/AIDS activities. The government plans to use the funds to support HIV prevention and treatment efforts and reduce stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
The donation also will support a methadone-substitution program that has been implemented in 95 jails in Indonesia (ANTARA/Jakarta Post, 8/3). The Indonesian government announced recently that it will launch a new strategy to curb drug use and the spread of HIV among inmates in the country, the Jakarta Post reports. The correctional institutions department will focus on health services, including needle-exchange and methadone programs, for inmates at 34 of the 95 prioritized jails, according to Untung Sugiyono, director-general of correctional institutions. Hendra Salim, chief of medication of the directorate-general of correctional institutions, said the government also will distribute condoms to help lower HIV cases among prisoners. Hendra said all new prisoners are required to take a general health exam, but an HIV test is only performed with an inmate's consent. "The health officials in prisons are given a handbook to help them recognize significant medical symptoms in order to prevent epidemics in prisons," he said, adding, "If they find any inmates with such symptoms, they should give counseling to the convicts to encourage them to have a HIV or other tests" (Jakarta Post, 8/3).
The new funds are in addition to Australia's commitment of a total of one billion Australian dollars, or about $855 million, for HIV/AIDS programs in the Asia-Pacific region, the ANTARA/Post reports (ANTARA/Jakarta Post, 8/3). Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer last month at the Third Ministerial Meeting on HIV/AIDS in Sydney, Australia, announced that the government has committed an additional 400 million Australian dollars, or about $350 million, for programs to fight HIV/AIDS in the region. The funds will be distributed by 2010 and will be added to the 600 million Australian dollars, or about $528 million, committed by the country last year for such programs, Downer said. The money will be distributed through the government's foreign aid agency, AusAID, for HIV/AIDS education and condom distribution programs. Efforts will focus primarily on Papua New Guinea, which has experienced significant increases in HIV/AIDS rates during the past 10 years (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/24).