The National, Wednesday 04th September 2012
PAPUA New Guinea will continue to contribute resources and funds towards addressing HIV and AIDS as it remains a major concern for the people and government of PNG.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in an interview with the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation’s media unit during last week’s Pacific Islands forum in Rarotonga, a lot more had to be done to respond to HIV and AIDS in PNG and the rest of the Pacific.
O’Neill said his government had increased local funding and would continue to allocate more resources as PNG continues to be affected by this disease.”
He said PNG had been reliant on international aid and donor assistance, but would continue to take ownership of the HIV response, and work alongside its traditional aid partners including AusAID, USAID, NZAID, and international non-governmental organisations.
O’Neill said HIV and AIDS had been a key concern for PNG since the first case was reported in 1987, but there had been positive progress over the years and the “only way to address HIV is an effective response”.
“We have seen some improvement in the statistics, and this goes to indicate that people are becoming more aware of HIV and are practising safe sex.
“Even though sex is still a taboo, people are now talking openly about sex and parents are educating their families and children at home.
“Awareness is important and it is the only way to change people’s behaviour.
“Achievements don’t happen overnight, and the Pacific region, including PNG, can work towards minimising infection cases and providing an enabling environment for those living with and affected by the virus.”
O’Neill said his government was looking at investing more as the young generation are more vulnerable including young women.
“Even though there has been a decrease in HIV funding internationally as climate change has become the new hot agenda, PNG will continue to invest on HIV/AIDS as it directly affects the community,” he said.
O’Neill also pointed out that HIV treatment and its accessibility remained an issue not only for PNG but in most parts of the region.
“We need to make sure that these very important life saving drugs are made accessible.
“With the support of donors, people living with HIV in PNG have access to treatment, but more has to be done in regards to reaching the rural areas and ministry of health and HIV will be looking into this,” he added.