By YVONNE HAIP
THERE are nearly 6,000 new cases of people infected by HIV in Western Highlands province alone last year, according to statistic released yesterday.
Of this, about half accessed care at a health facility and even less were on the anti retroviral drug (ARV).
Highlands’ regional coordinator of HIV care and treatment, Dr Veronica Kaima, said during the World AIDS Day activities in Mt Hagen yesterday that 5,656 new cases were confirmed in the province by the end of last year.
Dr Kaima said out of these cases, only 1,483 accessed health care and only 998 were on the ARV drug.
In line with this year’s national theme “Make HIV prevention, treatment, care and support accessible in PNG-it’s our right”, she asked if it would became a reality for the country.
“Are we, the Government and partners of today, making it our priority to make the service accessible to the bulk of the people in the community and rural areas?” she asked.
Dr Kaima said the ARV drug should be supplied at health facilities because the poor rural people were spending a lot of money on bus fares and others to travel to town to get their ARV drugs, which should be accessible at their doorsteps.
She claimed a lot of people in the province and the Highlands region had adopted careless living and continued to spread the epidemic.
Provincial AIDS committees, advocates, representatives of different organisations involved in HIV/AIDS programmes, school children, people living with HIV/AIDS, and business houses flocked in, wearing red to commemorate the day.