The National, Wednesday 27th March, 2013
By ELIZABETH MIAE
DESPITE the remarkable progress made in the national response to the HIV epidemic in the country as reported by the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) recently, basic information about the virus is still lacking in the rural areas.
Sohe MP and member of the special parliamentary committee on HIV/AIDS Delilah Gore expressed concern that HIV information was not reaching the rural areas including her electorate.
“People don’t understand how HIV is transmitted and how to prevent it.
“They are blaming sorcery for HIV,” Gore told NACS representatives last Thursday.
She was speaking at the presentation of the status report on HIV epidemic in PNG and current response brief at parliament.
She recalled a situation in her electorate where a young man who was very sick was taken by his family to a witch doctor to find out what he was suffering from and cure him.
Gore, who is also the treasury vice-minister, was informed about it during a visit and offered to help take the man to Popondetta hospital for treatment.
She said tests were done from blood samples taken from the man and he turned out to be HIV positive.
Gore asked the NACS what it
was doing to ensure that basic
information about the virus trickled down to the rural people.
Chairman and Samarai-Murua MP Gordon Wesley added that although so much had been funded for HIV/AIDS the information was not reaching the people.
In response, NACS’s acting director Dr Moale Kariko explained that the responsibility was in the hands of the provinces through the provincial AIDS committees to help coordinate HIV activities.
“The committees are assisted by the provincial AIDS committee secretariats which consist of three technical officers appointed by NACS in conjunction with the provincial administrator.”
Kariko made a power point presentation on the report before handing it over to the committee.
According to the report, 90% of all reported HIV cases in 2010 occurred in Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Enga, Morobe and NCD.
These provinces reported a high number of cases because of the expansion of voluntary counselling and testing services.
The HIV prevalence rate for NCD in that period was high among female sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender.
The rate among female sex workers was 19%, men who have sex with men (8.8%), transgender (23.7%) and pregnant women attending antenatal clinics (1.2%).