By YVONNE HAIP
THERE should be more HIV/AIDS programmes in rural areas because they will be the most affected when the epidemic hits them, coordinator of Tingim Laip programme Leo Waika said.
He said HIV/AIDS was slowly affecting these areas and had the potential to spread quickly because people did not have ready access to care, counselling and treatment.
Waika, who advocates high HIV/AIDS risk behavioural change, was referring to places which were so remote and inaccessible by road.
Baptist Union of PNG (BUPNG) HIV/AIDS programme manager, Michael Pagasa, confirmed that the disease was starting to affect people in remote areas.
He said in the Mul-Baiyer and Lumusa districts, where BUPNG was actively involved, several cases of HIV/AIDS were recorded in the remote rural areas.
Pagasa said an example was at an area only accessible by air, where six reactive cases were recorded last year and another 10 recorded this year, including two married people.
He said it was crucial at this stage to know the exact boundaries of districts so that programmes could be implemented effectively and district AIDS councils would know their boundaries and work in target areas.
Pagasa said it was important to work now and address the situation before it went out of hand and challenged the district AIDS councils to take the lead.
He said ongoing tribal fights in the area affected the effective delivery of HIV/AIDS care, counselling and treatment, as well as awareness programmes.