Deaths at 11,000

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MORE than 11,000 people are estimated to have died from HIV-related illnesses since the first reported case in Papua New Guinea in 1987.
These deaths have left 5,610 children orphaned.
That was revealed at a national dialogue yesterday attended by 250 participants from the four regions who discussed the role of the law in responding to HIV.
This year, the country joined the Global Commission on HIV and the law to remove barriers to progress in the AIDS response, bringing together policymakers, civil society, faith-based organisations and experts into the talks.
Retired Australian high court judge justice Michael Kirby attended the event as guest speaker and said: “The law should be a helper and not a hinderance in the AIDS response.”
Papua New Guinea became the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region to have a generalised HIV epidemic, with close to 1% of the sexually active population infected in 2003.
Gender inequality and gender-based violence make women and girls in the country particularly vulnerable to HIV.
A UN statement released yesterday said certain provinces such as in the highlands, “are more affected by HIV and in others the epidemic is on the rise”.
“Much higher HIV infections rates are found among sub-populations such as transactional and cash-based sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men and transgender people.
“For an effective AIDS response in the country, it is imperative that we address the increase of HIV infection among these sub-populations,” it said.