By WALLACE KIALA
POVERTY and socio-economic decline in communities in recent years has been a major cause of vulnerability to the HIV epidemic among women, youths and children, according to findings from a recent National AIDS Council secretariat study.
The report, “Systematic literature review of HIV and AIDS research in PNG 2007-08”, showed that due to socio-cultural norms and practices of gender inequality, women were identified as being more susceptible to HIV transmission compared with men.
Women who experienced financial hardship, frequently engage in sex for cash to subsidise their incomes even to feed their own families, the report found.
It said women who exchange sex for money, goods or services were seen as vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and, at times, were unable to negotiate condom use with their clients.
As a result, these women were stigmatised and discriminated against in the society, making them vulnerable to violence and isolation.
A total of 62 studies were carried out by NACS in conjunction with AusAID, under the PNG-Australia HIV/ AIDS programme and higher education researchers, covering more than 25,000 people of all walks from both rural and urban areas.