The National, Monday February 10th, 2014
By JAYNE SAFIHAO
DESPITE ongoing efforts by the government and its partners to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, statistics have revealed a rise in the number of positive cases, an official says.
Chairman of the National AIDS Council Dr Banare Bun, who visited Madang last week, said more than 3,000 new cases were reported last year in the country.
This brings to 36,000 the total confirmed cases since HIV was first detected in Papua New Guinea about 26 years ago.
Of these, about 16,000 are on the anti-retroviral treatment or ART.
Bun said that while figures were confirmed, a large number of cases remained unreported.
He said 80% of the infection rate in the country was in the National Capital District, Morobe and the six Highlands provinces.
The second high-risk provinces with a 20% infection rate include Madang, East New Britain and a other where economic expansion occurs.
Bun said Madang, for instance, was an economic corridor for those travelling from the Highlands, Lae and East and West Sepik, making the environment very conducive for HIV to spread.
He said topping the list in the category of “high risk” people in the transmission was landowners from project impact areas.
Others in the same high risk category are members of the disciplined forces, seafarers, truckies, businessmen and women, mine workers and politicians – at all levels – including public servants.
Findings by the council revealed that a lot of landowners, especially those from mining and logging areas, were using their royalty money to lure or entice women, especially sex workers and young girls, into having unprotected sex with them.
Bun said 96% of the infection rate was still through sex and warned people to use condoms always.
Meanwhile, Bun stressed that a lot of awareness and treatment were concentrated in the high-risk provinces.
“This doesn’t mean that the rest of the country is forgotten.”
Bun was on his first official engagement to the provinces since his appointment as the PAC chairman.