PM launches AIDS debate

National, Normal

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare launched an online national youth debate on HIV/AIDS for students in institutions of higher learning at Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang last Saturday.
The project is an initiative of the National AIDS Council secretariat to get young adults interested in discussing and debating the issue and is supported by the PNG Sustainable Development Programme.
The launch at the Friendship Library was attended by Prof Ross Garnaut, chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Program, the Australian government’s special adviser on climate change, high commissioner of Solomon Islands to PNG Bernard Bata’anasia, Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet, DWU president Fr Jan Czuba, other invited guests, students and staff.
Sir Michael said sex was no longer a taboo subject like it was in PNG’s traditional past.
 Young people need to talk openly about HIV/AIDS, he said.
“PNG is opening up to be part of an increasingly open global society.
“So youths must also be given the chance to discuss issues such as HIV/AIDS and the online debate forum provides that opportunity,” he said.
DWU student representative council president, Dennis Kitchnoge said the national youth debate online gave the opportunity to everyone to present their arguments over the issue.
He said traditional forms of debate were restricted to a few people who could be confident to stand up and speak in public but left out the rest who had ideas to share.
The online debate could  reach more people.
Chris Papiali, an information systems lecturer involved with the project, said the launch marked a very important step forward in giving the chance to youths to share their ideas on a national issue using modern technology.
The national youth debate website allows students and youths to log on to the site and register via a password to discuss or debate the HIV/AIDS issue.
They receive feedback from others in a two-way communication.
The site was created by the DWU ICT department and is hosted by them.
The debate will initially involve DWU students and eventually move out to other institutions depending on their desire to participate in the programme.