EAST New Britain province is now third in the country in its HIV/AIDS status.
The provincial AIDS council (PAC) confirmed this recently when addressing the public at Kokopo market after a walkathon from Vunapope to the market.
The current statistics (2007) for reported cases is 197, however, it is believed to have increased last year and thsi year.
Teams of youths from various Catholic churches took a positive stand in taking part in World AIDS Day in Kokopo town by joining the march.
Governor Leo Dion had to put his important engagements aside to address the youths and the public as the main speaker of the event.
Mr Dion said HIV/AIDS was not meant to be kept a secret, but it was an issue that required open discussions despite their cultures and traditions.
He said churches, NGOs, awareness groups and other organisations had different ways of disseminating message regarding the disease to locals, however, they often hide vital information.
Over the years, the Government, private sector and international organisations had contributed a lot of money into the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Unfortunately, it was a waste, according the governor.
Mr Dion added that a lot of money was spent on creating awareness on the use of condoms and other preventive measures, however, the problem lies in individuals when it comes to decision making.
Mr Dion urged people to be wise when making choices to avoid being a victim.
He also encouraged them to abstain from unnecessary sexual activity on the streets, night clubs and other places.
“I am one of those who is behind the idea of banning some of the places that promote and encourage the spread of the disease such as night clubs,” Mr Dion said.
He reminded the people that there were victims in the province who needed their support, love and care, and, therefore, they must treat them as part of the community.
Mr Dion acknowledged the Government for allocating money next year towards the fight against HIV/AIDS saying that more awareness must be carried out in all provinces particularly in the rural areas where the number of victims was increasing.
Despite ENB’s status in HIV/AIDS, he said he was happy that ENB would host the 2012 PNG Games to keep the people busy in preparing for the games and that should keep them from other social activities that will put them into trouble.