24 Oct 2003

Papuan doctor lists problems they face in the battle to counter the spread of HIV/AIDs

4:57 pm on 24 October 2003

A doctor who has worked with AIDS affected communities in the Indonesian province of Papua says much more needs to be done to combat the virus.

Officials estimate that 10 thousand people in the province are now infected with the disease.

The AIDS Prevention Commission of Papua believes that while there are only one thousand reported cases, infection rates are ten times higher.

Dr Nurlan Silitonga, who works for the Indonesia HIV/AIDS prevention project, funded by AusAID, says dealing with the virus is difficult.

"We have to train the doctors, we have to support the laboratory facilities, we also have to educate the people - it is not easy because there are so many native languages there - most of the people in Papua cannot speak Indonesian ....also not all Papuans live in the cities and it is not easy to go the villages - we have many factors that make it not so easy"

Dr Silitonga says that while the sex industry is partly to blame for the spread of the virus, the Government needs to do more to raise public awareness about safe sex.