VOA News Examines HIV/AIDS Efforts in Papua New GuineaVOA News on Saturday examined efforts to address HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea. Some estimates place the country's HIV/AIDS prevalence at 2%, and some studies indicate that about 10% of the population could be living with the disease by 2025. According to VOA News, young women and older men are disproportionately affected by the disease, and most HIV cases are transmitted through heterosexual intercourse.
Papua New Guinea's military recently announced that it will help distribute more than 40 million condoms provided by Australian agencies. Don Baxter of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations said that the military's involvement in HIV/AIDS efforts is vital. "I think Papua New Guinea is perhaps the most difficult country in the world to mount a national HIV response," he said, adding, "It has over 700 different language groups, no national transport system to speak of and few government services that actually operate outside of the capital, Port Moresby." Baxter said that the "military is one of the few organizations which actually can operate nationally effectively."
In addition, a local group recently announced that it has partnered with more than 90 hotels and guest houses to distribute two million no-cost condoms. According to Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, people living with HIV/AIDS in the country often are abandoned by their families, and the fear surrounding the disease hinders efforts to curb it. According to VOA News, some people in the country associate HIV/AIDS with sorcery and witchcraft, and there have been reports of HIV-positive people being buried alive, starved to death or thrown into rivers. Human rights organizations recorded 50 such deaths in 2008 (Mercer, VOA News, 4/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.