By BOSORINA ROBBY
PEOPLE living with HIV/AIDS are now given the opportunity to petition the Government for support to help make their lives better.
Represented by four peers from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dealing with HIV and related issues, they were invited to put the face and voice on HIV at the launch of the Commission on AIDS in the Pacific report titled “Turning the tide: An open strategy for a response to AIDS in the Pacific” and the National HIV Prevention Strategy Plan 2010-15.
Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane launched the report and plan yesterday.
Speaking in a room packed with dignitaries from the PNG Government, the diplomatic corps, churches, civil societies and other stakeholders and partners in the universal response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the speakers appealed to the Government for support.
Single mother Mary Andrew appealed to the Government and its partners to repeal existing legislations to enable them to fight the stigma and discrimination within their societies.
“They must also ensure there is adequate supply of the antiretroviral therapy drugs needed to help prolong the lives of those infected with HIV,” she said.
Samoa deputy prime minister and Commission on AIDS in the Pacific chairman Misa Telefoni Retzlaff said the focus should now be on people living with HIV/AIDS.
“With the availability of the ARV drugs, many patients will over time become stronger and healthier, leading to meaningful contributions to the economy.
“We must support those infected with HIV because facing the realities of HIV will help us admit failures in which lessons can be learnt and what to avoid in the fight against HIV,” he said.
Mr Retzlaff urged parliamentarians and other stakeholders to read the recommendations and act on them as the blueprint needed for positive steps to reduce the number of infections in the Pacific region.
Sir Paulias said: “The HIV Prevention Strategy Plan is the torch of hope for preventative measures as we move from the traditional ABC methods.
“The government must take the lead to respond and ensure that the availability of resources is effectively used to assist churches and civil societies.”
The report recommended strong government leadership as the way to launch the implementations, and to review existing laws to signal a greater concern for all people, thus reducing their risks and vulnerability.