11 May 2005

AIDS campaigners in PNG seek to raise awareness of the disease

7:12 am on 11 May 2005

AIDS campaigners in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville say there are hundreds of people with the disease and political candidates need to help raise AIDS awareness.

May Matanu who is counseling candidates for the Bougainville AIDS committee says they have 42 confirmed cases but these people have only been found by chance.

Don Wiseman reports.

"May Matanu says their estimate is that there are around 500 HIV positive people in the population of less than 200-thousand but she says until people come forward voluntarily for testing, they won't really know. She says the confirmed cases are the result of ante-natal tests and from tests from donated blood. Mrs Matanu says her committee is training people who will return to their village communities and raise awareness of the virus. These workers are given counseling training and it's hoped they can use these skills to encourage people to be tested. She says it's critical that political candidates in elections starting next week use the opportunities to raise awareness and that those elected provide support for the fight against the disease."