This comment was made by the Catholic HIV Coordinator, Sr Stella Morokana, during a HIV/AIDS awareness in the Peit Constituency of Buka Island last Tuesday (August 21).
Sr Morokana said there was a huge increase in the number of people infected with the deadly virus since 2012.
“The HIV figures from the Catholic AIDS Office show an increase from just 23 in 2012 and to 77 in 2018. This is a sharp climb - a bad trend especially for a region coming out of a conflict.
“We don’t have the figures from other entities who are also doing HIV tests,” she told the people of a remote mountain village of Sapani.
She said the level of HIV educational awareness has declined in the past years and needed immediate support with funds and trainings by the government to control the resurging HIV epidemic.
“HIV awareness coverage in the communities from 2012 - 2017 has also declined with less number of people coming for HIV status testings,” said Sr Morokana.
She said in 2012, a total of 7,000 people were covered in HIV/AIDS awareness program but this has gone down to just 1,200 in 2017.
“This declining trend is due to funding constraints and shortage of HIV counsellors.”
The Catholic AIDS Office, who is doing most of the HIV programs in AROB, has been faced with funding constraints and shortage of HIV counsellors to extend HIV services to most parts of Bougainville.
Sr Morokana wants relevant authorities in AROB to seriously look into the critical issue and take radical measures to prevent more people from getting infected.
(Catholic HIV Coordinator, Sr Stella Morokana, with HIV Peer Educators conducting a Family Household HIV Awareness)