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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Marks Progress In Addressing Domestic HIV Issues
60 percent of eligible patients reportedly receiving treatment

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 27, 2012) – HIV infections in Papua New Guinea eased by more than 25% between 2001 and 2011, the UNAIDS World Aids Day 2012 Report announced yesterday.

The report details the global progress leading to the 2015 worldwide goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The report detailed that in Papua New Guinea more than 60% of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy were receiving treatment; however, with the remaining 40% not receiving the medicines they are entitled to, there is still a long way to go in the national response to HIV.

Annie McPherson, executive director of Igat Hope, said she believes the key to ‘Getting to Zero’ lies in the hands of women. "Women can play a major and very strong influential role in shaping the direction of the response in PNG. Women are most likely to care about their health and that of their unborn child, women are more likely to take precautions even if it is to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Women are more likely to talk to other women about health and HIV issues as well as their children and their partners," she said.

World AIDS Day takes place on December 1 annually and is a global event which acknowledges the international fight against HIV/AIDS. This year’s World AIDS Day will be marked by Health HIV Walks across NCD electorates, the main walk taking place at Jack Pidik Oval.

Meanwhile, HIV positive women are taking the lead in advocating for their own rights by engaging in national and provincial broadcasts to demand changes in key areas.

Christine Dee, President of Simbu Women’s HIV/AIDS Positive Network and Sala Koiya President of Western Highlands Women’s HIV/AIDS Positive Network joined Don Iriope of IGAT Hope to discuss the areas which most affected the positive women throughout their lives on provincial NBC radio in November.

Ms. Dee said the greater involvement of people living with HIV was paramount in leading to necessary health care changes in the country.

"We need to be able to take responsibility, to address our issues, to stand-up and make a difference." she said.

Mt. Hagen and Simbu’s HIV positive women’s groups Stewards of Life and Tru Prens joined earlier in November to identify the three most necessary areas of action in the national HIV response; greater access of HIV medications (ART’s) to all those who need them, the greater involvement of people living with HIV in care, treatment and support for planning and delivery of health services and an end to stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses for all people living with HIV.

The radio shows although broadcast live will be replayed throughout FM100’s week long HIV/AIDs program in the lead up to World AIDS Day.

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