HIV/AIDS Increasing in Papua New Guinea’s Rural, Urban Areas, Report Says
The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Papua New Guinea is increasing in both rural and urban areas, according to a report released recently by the country's Independent Review Group on HIV/AIDS, IRIN/PlusNews reports. According to the report, the country's epidemic is "still increasing more rapidly than the response," and there are not enough clinics in rural areas of Papua New Guinea to cope with the demand for treating HIV/AIDS and other diseases. "Provincial responses hinge on an ability to understand the local epidemic, design and implement programs, and monitor effectiveness," the report said, adding, "Little has been done to help stakeholders in provinces and districts develop the skills to do so." The report highlighted the need to engage people living with HIV/AIDS in efforts to provide counseling and home-based care, as well as to increase awareness about prevention.
According to IRIN/PlusNews, the Herudu HIV/AIDS clinic at the General Hospital in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby provides treatment to 1,665 patients, about 1,000 of whom are taking antiretroviral drugs. Between seven and 10 new patients arrive at the clinic weekly for services, which includes counseling and efforts to raise awareness, Opina Ragagalo, who runs the clinic, said. Tau Naunaan, an HIV/AIDS medical officer at Herudu, said that most of the patients are unemployed, which "directly affects their nutritional status." Naunaan added that the inability to pay for transportation to and from the clinic and a lack of family support "leads to poor compliance, with patients not showing up on time for their tests and their drugs."
According to 2007 UNAIDS estimates, 59,537 of the nearly 5.1 million people in Papua New Guinea are living with HIV/AIDS, 1,057 of whom are children. UNAIDS also estimates that HIV prevalence in urban areas is 1.38% and 1.65% in rural areas (IRIN/PlusNews, 11/7).