1 Jun 2006

UN is dismayed AIDS epidemic is still growing in PNG

12:07 pm on 1 June 2006

The United Nations is dismayed the AIDS epidemic is still growing at pace in Papua New Guinea despite leveling off in most other countries.

Annual figures released by the Geneva-based agency UNAIDS this week show PNG has 60,000 cases, and 1.8 eight per cent of the country's adult population is infected.

UNAIDS says access to antiretroviral treatment in PNG is low and AIDS killed 3,300 people in PNG last year.

Ben Lowings reports.

"A spokeswoman for UNAIDS in Geneva, Dominique De Santis, says the figures are dangerous signs for Papua New Guinea. Ms De Santis puts the growth of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea down to discrimination against women, widespread sexual violence, the number of paid and casual sex liaisons and an erratic pattern of condom use. Ms De Santis says PNG now needs to scale up its prevention programmes. Infection is said to be low across Oceania but the UN says behavior that favours the spread of sexually transmitted infections is common. UNAIDS says in Vanuatu and Samoa, more than 40 percent of pregnant women have been found to have at least one sexually transmitted infection."