Rural areas at risk of HIV spreading

HIV/AIDS is rampant and progressing in rural areas while it is contained in urban areas.

This is one of the key findings in the 2015 Inquiry Report on the status of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea.

It was revealed by West New Britain Governor and Chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS Advocacy, Sasindran Muthuvel, in Parliament yesterday.

“HIV/AIDS fury is far reaching and rampant in the remote rural communities while many people lack knowledge and risks of how HIV/AIDS is spreading and blamed AIDS related deaths to sorcery.

“Furthermore, these communities are not within reach of any medical facilities while education and awareness on HIV/AIDS is lacking,” said Muthuvel.

The inquiry was carried out in 10 Provinces in the four regions of the country and include Kimbe, Kokopo, Kavieng, Alotau, Popondetta, Mt Hagen, Wabeg, Mendi, Goroka, Lae, Madang, and Port Moresby.

From the case study areas, the highlands region had the highest prevalence with 0.85 per cent, Southern Region (excluding NCD) 0.57 per cent, Momase Region with 0.46 per cent, and the New Guinea Islands had 0.32 per cent.

Though not a comprehensive report, data collected revealed an alarming trend particularly in rural areas which Muthuvel said the Government could no longer remain complacent but take ownership to fight the epidemic.

“Close to 80 per cent of the total funding for the HIV response in PNG is from international funding sources,” said Muthuvel.

He further stated “Since 2011 PNG’s domestic finding for HIV response has been on a downward trend. The ONG Government contributes less than 25 per cent of all resources towards the National HIV response in 2013.”

The report stated that more recently Oro, Manus and Madang had increased infection rates which needed further data verification as improper up-keep of data contributed to discrepancies.

One of the recommendations of the report is to improve data collections at the district level health centres so that there effective HIV response.

Cedric Patjole