Australia To Give Additional $12M for HIV/AIDS Efforts in Papua New Guinea
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby pledged to give an additional 13 million Australian dollars, or about $12 million, to help nongovernmental organizations fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, Reuters reports (Rheeney, Reuters, 3/7). The new money will raise Australia's overall aid to nearly 400 million Australian dollars, or $373 million, through 2009, the AAP/Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Rudd announced the donation while on his first official visit to Papua New Guinea since he took office in November 2007. Australia and Papua New Guinea have a "mutual interest that this (HIV/AIDS crisis) moves to the top of our bilateral cooperation agenda," he said (Gridneff, AAP/Sydney Morning Herald, 3/7). "Of course we have a feeling of compassion towards our combined humanity to act effectively with people who are suffering this terrible disease," Rudd said.
There are about 64,000 recorded HIV/AIDS cases in Papua New Guinea, but experts believe the actual number to be between 80,000 and 120,000, Reuters reports. Rudd said the number is expected to rise to at least 220,000 by 2025 even with increased HIV/AIDS education and prevention. According to experts, the number could rise to more than 500,000 by 2025 if increased efforts are not made (Reuters, 3/7). Rudd also said the new funding will help to strengthen malaria programs and other activities. He visited the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, a center for malaria and HIV/AIDS research, in the city of Goroka and also spoke with HIV/AIDS advocates (AAP/Sydney Morning Herald, 3/7).