THE stabilisation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Papua New Guinea has eased some of the pressure on health services in far north Queensland, an Australian academic has told ABC News.
John McBride, James Cook University’s professor of medicine, was speaking at a Pacific region health forum in Cairns last week sponsored by the World Health Organisation.
He said more than 50 clinics had been established in PNG in the past five years, and the national infection rate was stable around 2%.
He said the new clinics had greatly improved community education.
Prof McBride said the clinics had helped stem the flow of patients seeking treatment in Australia.
“People would get onto a plane down to Cairns with very advanced diseases associated with HIV, because they just couldn’t get the care they needed up in PNG,” he said.
“But that care is now available and those sorts of instances are no longer occurring, so it really has had an impact.
“Before treatments were introduced to PNG, we were concerned about maybe an exodus of people across that porous border from the Torres Strait to Australian health services to seek treatment for HIV, but that really hasn’t occurred,” Prof McBride said. – www.abc.net.au.