By PAUL SINGE
HIV/AIDS is here to stay and it is everyone’s responsibilities to collaboratively pursue to end its spread, according to a person living with the virus.
Thirty-four-year-old Janet Chris from Mendi, Southern Highlands province, highlighted this at the World AIDS Day celebration in Goroka on Tuesday.
She said she contracted the virus from her husband when she was 27-years-old, but was still actively working as a registered clerk for STI and HIV clinic in Mendi General Hospital.
“This is my seventh year of living with the virus and working actively, because there was no stigma and discrimination and positive living,” Ms Chris said.
She said people should educate their children at home and in schools about the virus and tell them on how to prevent themselves from contracting the virus.
“Our children are growing up with sexual desires and if we do not educate them, their future will be ruined and would be riddled with the virus,” Ms Chris said.
She appealed to people who were in care centres not to go into hiding, but accept the situation and come out to stand for their province and combat to minimise the spread of the virus.
Goroka town mayor Koni Sari, who also spoke at the gathering, blamed the spread of the virus on alcohol and night clubs as major contributors.
“Consumption of alcohol and roaming in night clubs significantly contributes towards the escalating spread of the virus in the country, including Eastern Highlands province,” Mr Sari said.
Mr Sari said consumption of alcohol in night clubs and streets forces sexual emotions in men and women which they were unable to control.
This leads them to have unprotected sex, placing them at risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
He called on the Eastern Highlands provincial government to ban alcohol and night clubs in the province.
Mr Sari also said behaviour change was another major factor that would help cease the spread of the virus.
The theme of the celebration for the day was “Stop AIDS, keep the promise and leadership”.