The National – Thursday, December 30, 2010
By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
A PUBLICATION by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched this month, shows there has been a marked increase in public awareness of HIV/AIDS in PNG since early 2000 with the largest growth recorded in the urban sector.
However, the report, which captured the perspectives of women and girls living with HIV in PNG, revealed that unlike the urban sector where media played a major role in disseminating HIV-related information, in the rural areas, the transmission of HIV-related knowledge is still restricted to information provided by healthcare workers.
The report, presented by UNDP HIV/AIDS programme specialist Nashida Sattar, also identified several factors that impaired the country’s capacity to manage HIV-related concerns effectively.
These included low nominal wages in the rural sector, high under-employment in the urban sector and inadequate allocation in the national budget for the education, employment and healthcare of women in the country.
She added that high-risk sexual behaviour, including unsafe sex, sex with multiple partners and the routine occurrence of gender-based violence, including rape and incest, further worsened the situation and attributed to the poor management of HIV-related issues.
The PNG report was part of data gathered by UNDP on the perspectives of women and girls living with HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific region particularly Philippines, India and PNG.
The perspectives assisted the team assess the progress of each country towards achieving the targeted objectives of the millennium development goals (MDG) 3 of promoting gender equality and empowering women and MDG 6 of combating HIV, malaria and other diseases by 2015.
Based on the survey, the report recommended amongst others that each country including PNG should standardise country-specific curricula containing sexuality, HIV and life skills-related information which must be delivered in a formal manner.
It identified that the success of such curricula in closing the awareness gap is dependent on various methods including training personnel to deliver the content in a neutral manner and enforcing content delivery, if necessary, through statutory provisions.