Over 50,000 people need ARV drug

National, Normal

Report and picture by YVONNE HAIP

MORE than 50,000 people are in need of the antiretroviral (ARV) drug in the country and if Global Fund ceases funding, these people’s hope of living would  be dashed. 
This was the concern of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the Western Highlands province, who said ARV had been one of their hopes in living a fulfilled life.
The PLWHA said if Global Fund stopped buying the drugs, the 51,000 people infected with the AIDS virus would suffer.
Spokesperson Mark Kitan claimed that 98,757 people are infected with HIV, but only 60% (51,000) were on the ARV and most of these people were committed to carrying out awareness as PLWHA.
He said as PLWHA they had more influence when carrying out awareness as they were infected and were in a better position to be advocators.
Mr Kitan, who is also a member of True Warriors, an association formed by PLWHA, said the True Warriors were committed to fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS and had created awareness openly during the recent World AIDS Day in Mt Hagen.
He said this was their aim and they were planning to continue with this with the availability of the ARV.
However, he said if the Government did not find an alternative way of securing the ARV, they would suffer.
Mr Kitan said they planned to hold a walkathon from Mt Hagen to Port Moresby to get the Government to buy ARV.
He said some PLWHA from other provinces had pledged their support.
They are planning on travelling from Mt Hagen to Lae, then on to Popondetta, where they would walk the Kokoda Track to Port Moresby.
He said in Port Moresby, they would front up at Waigani and stage their protest there.