29 Nov 2012

Advocacy group says work needed to fight AIDS in rural PNG

11:08 am on 29 November 2012

An advocacy group for people living with HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea wants representation on provincial AIDS councils so they can do something about an epidemic of the disease in some rural areas.

As World Aids Day approaches, Igat Hope, says its members should have key decision-making roles on the councils, so it can target prevention and health services where they're needed most.

The group's executive director, Annie McPherson, says there is an epidemic in some rural areas, like the Highlands, where many sufferers are not even diagnosed because of poor access to health services.

"Where I come from you have to travel three hours on a dinghy, and then another half and hour to forty minutes on public transportation, land transport, to be able to get into Alotau. And by the time you get in there it's most likely afternoon and the clinical services are closed so you have to overnight."

Annie McPherson says more than 30-thousand people are known to have HIV/AIDS in PNG, but at least 10 thousand of those are not getting essential antiretroviral medication.