‘9 HIV infections daily’

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AT least nine people are infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) daily in Papua New Guinea, National Aids Council acting deputy director Tony Lupiwa says.
“While much attention is being focused on the Coronavirus (Covid-19), let us not forget that HIV is still a public health threat in PNG. And the threat is growing,” he added.
Lupiwa said community support was vital in helping to check the spread of HIV and “making prevention efforts count”.
He said, in a media conference, that the HIV factsheet revealed that the Highlands, National Capital District (NCD) and Lae registered the most number of infections.
“The public should not hesitate to go to a clinic and get tested and treatment is on the same day.
“The lack of funding from the Government has meant little to no prevention programmes and limited awareness.
“As funding has now been allocated directly to the District Services Improvement Programme (DSIP), the role of communities to help check the spread of HIV is vital.
“The council’s advocacy and social mobilisation manager Valentinie Tangoh and I must stress the importance of community ownership in the war against HIV.
“With limited budget received in 2020, we mobilised procuring and distribution of condoms nationwide.
“We are also aiming at eliminating mother-to-child transmissions by 2030.
“Development partners provide condoms that are just stored in warehouses because there is no funding to distribute them” he lamented.
Lupina said while there were different Government agencies and private sector companies that provided funding and logistical support, “these alone are not enough”.
“There should be more efforts, like a rare example of the handing over of boxes of condoms to Barrick employees, who were heading to Porgera, to help distribute amongst the communities via company chartered planes.
“Also, the promotion of male circumcision that offered 60 per cent protection from transmission.
“There is still, however, a significant lack of public awareness on the spread of HIV due to the secretariat’s budget constraints,” he added.