Papua New Guinea Has Highest HIV/AIDS, STI Rate in Asia-Pacific Region
Papua New Guinea has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in the Asia-Pacific region, according to medical researchers and experts speaking at the 40th anniversary and colloquium of the PNG Institute of Medical Research, PACNews/Islands Business reports. During an HIV/AIDS presentation, physician John Millan said that by December 2007, more than 23,000 cases have been reported in the country, including 5,000 new diagnoses. More than 76,000 HIV-positive people live in the country. Ninety-four percent of HIV/AIDS cases in Papua New Guinea were transmitted through heterosexual practices and 4% were transmitted through other methods, he added.
Millan said that according to raw data obtained from Mingende and Kundiawa hospitals in the Simbu province, HIV cases were higher among young girls and older men. HIV prevalence is increasing faster in rural areas than in urban areas, Millan added.
In a separate presentation on sexual health, physician Greg Law "alluded that STIs and HIV are prevalent where women's rights are least valued and respected," according to PACNews/Islands Business. Law said sexual health needs to be promoted in Papua New Guinea, along with proper sexual hygiene and access to adequate water supply. He added that denial and lack of ability to discuss sexual health issues are contributing to the increase in STI and HIV/AIDS cases (PACNews/Islands Business, 7/2).