ABOUT six years ago, there was a massive dispute in South Africa when the Mbeki government denied that AIDS developed from HIV.
The policy also said that nutrition was more important than treatment with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
Readers may recall an international conference in Capetown when demonstrators disrupted proceedings, opposing the nutrition approach and demanding ARV drugs.
This same dispute is coming to PNG if the country is forced to fund its own ARV.
In two years time, there will be more than 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in PNG. At K600 a person every couple of months, this will cost K360 million a year.
In ten years, that may double.
The trouble is that many people with the virus will remain in high-risk lifestyles which led to their infection in the first place. From a development point of view, it may be money down the drain.
The Government has to consider alternatives. With ARV drugs, the sufferer may live for 20-30 years.
The world does not really know yet.
Without ARV drugs but the right lifestyle, the sufferer may live for 10-12 years.
It is better than nothing if drugs are not available.
If PNG cannot afford to provide free drugs to increasing numbers of people with the virus, then a positive living lifestyle is the only alternative.
Who knows, there may be a cure in 10-12 years.
The Mbeki government was right to focus on nutrition, which is essential to HIV sufferers whether they are on ARV drugs or following only a positive living lifestyle.
If PNG cannot afford ARV drugs, positive living is all we have.
At least 10-12 years gives an HIV sufferer some time to bring their small children to adulthood.