PNG tops HIV statistics in Pacific

National

By JOY NEMO
PAPUA New Guinea has the highest HIV prevalence among the Pacific island nations – with the concentration highest in the Highlands provinces, an official says.
National Aids Council Secretariat regional manager Valentine Tangoh told a summit of church leaders in Port Moresby discussing HIV/AIDS in PNG, that HIV prevalence was around 0.8 per cent among men and women between 15 and 49 years of age. Enga recorded 1.7 per cent, Jiwaka 1.6 per cent, Western Highlands 1.3 per cent and Eastern Highlands one per cent.
He said studies showed a high prevalence of HIV among female sex workers (19 per cent), male sex workers (8.8 per cent) and transgender males.
Tangoh said the HIV prevalence rate in other provinces was also increasing.
The key groups were men and women involved in the sex industry, he said.
He also told the church leaders that the key groups were often discriminated against.
“Even the police refuse to file cases, (public sector) staff refuse to provide services which the key population need, and most commonly, family rejection,” Tangoh said.
He said because of the strong social and religious stigma, these groups were very difficult to reach.
“Therefore, we need to target (this) key population.

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