New strategy to fight HIV/AIDS

National, Normal

THE National AIDS Council yesterday started laying the foundation for its National HIV strategy (NHS) 2011-15 in preparation when the first strategy expires next year.
NAC chairman Sir Peter Barter said the workshop was important as it sets the guidelines for partners and stakeholders to follow through.
He said the NHS would include an increased focus on more testing and more accurate and timely data so that more could be done to correctly identify the extent of the HIV epidemic.
It is also a multi-sectoral strategy that would address prevention, treatment, care and support, gender, leadership and vulnerable groups.
“Without this, our efforts, whilst genuine, will fail to be as effective as they should be,” Sir Peter said.
He said in addition to the use of the integrated bio-behavioural survey (IBBS), the success of the strategy depended on the need to critically assess whether the masses understood the epidemic, the drivers of the spread of HIV, the cost of addressing HIV nationally, how to mobilise the resources, how to prevent it and to care for those infected and affected by the virus.
Sir Peter said though NACS had been wasteful with its resources through extensive traveling and small cases of fund mismanagement, NAC had approved K500,000 for the establishment of the IBBS as a population-based survey, to make work faster in obtaining solid data on the extent of the epidemic and urged all parties to make this a priority.
He said that NACS would ensure that every toea was accounted for.
A point to consider also was how to tackle the epidemic within the constraints and the context of the country’s development and culture, Sir Peter said.
He said in PNG, the response to the epidemic was limited by resources, under-developed infrastructure such as communication, transport , health facilities, low finances, gender-based violence, low literacy and law and order problems.
“As the chairman, I assure you that NAC is committed to this challenge  to ensure that a new set of approaches are sanctioned to lift the response to HIV/AIDS to the next level,” he said.