Government, Businesses Should Cooperate To Mitigate Effects of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea, Conference Delegate Says
The government and businesses in Papua New Guinea should work together to alleviate the effects of HIV/AIDS and avoid a "catastrophic health burden," Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Duncan Kerr said Monday at the start of the 24th Papua New Guinea-Australia Business Forum, Papua New Guinea's Post-Courier reports.
Kerr acknowledged current efforts by the Business Council of Papua New Guinea, with help from the Australian government, to fight the spread of HIV but said that increased cooperation between the government and businesses is needed to effectively address the issue. "HIV/AIDS is a very significant threat to the strength of the economic future of Papua New Guinea," Kerr said, adding, "It's a very difficult territory. ... It is one of those areas that could significantly retract on the economic opportunities" for the country. According to Kerr, HIV/AIDS will pose an "unthinkable" health burden on Papua New Guinea, adding that the disease has already "penetrated" the country "quite widely" (Post-Courier, 5/6).
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. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/10).