News / Asia

Papua New Guinea Makes Gains in AIDS Battle but Faces Challenges

Multimedia

Audio

Papua New Guinea,  with one of the world's highest rates of new HIV infections, has made gains in reducing the spread of AIDS.  However, AIDS advocates and counselors, meeting at a UNAIDS conference in Bangkok,  say changing male behaviors and ensuring more HIV positive pregnant women have access to antiretroviral drugs remain challenges.

Papua New Guinea,  facing a general AIDS epidemic, has slowed the virus’ spread as education programs and a marked increase in health facilities conducting HIV tests among pregnant women have had an impact.

Papua New Guinea Makes Gains in AIDS Battle but Faces Challenges
Papua New Guinea Makes Gains in AIDS Battle but Faces Challenges

The stepped up surveillance has allowed for a downward revision in new AIDS cases to around one per cent of the population, or about 35,000, with most cases in urban areas of this country which occupies the eastern half of the Pacific island of New Guinea.

In 2009 the AIDS death toll stood at 1,300.  A combination of drug and alcohol abuse as well as multiple sex partners and gender-based violence has contributed to the diseases’ spread.

UNAIDS, a joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS,  says the evidence points to a leveling off in new cases in Papua New Guinea, marking substantial progress over recent years.

But Murray Proctor, HIV/AIDS ambassador from the Australian Agency for International Development, says the challenge for Papua New Guinea is ensuring prevention programs are sustained.

"The challenge is still though to get the prevention message across to high risk groups and differently in different places. In Papua New Guinea you have 1.0 per cent prevalence and it’s mainly heterosexual," said Proctor. "In other parts of East Asia it’s injecting drug users and increasingly men who have sex with men."

But concerns remain. Rising numbers of babies are being born HIV positive. Linda John, an AIDS advocate diagnosed with HIV in 2004, says too many pregnant women refuse to take prenatal HIV tests.  A woman found to be HIV positive can access antiretroviral medications and prevent mother to child transmission.

"Mothers are given choices to do the HIV test or not,' she said. "Some mothers refuse to do the test. But it’s important to consider the child that is in the mother’s womb because the child also has the right. What if the mother is infected and if she doesn’t want to hear her status? This is a high risk in transmitting the virus to the child and that’s one of the challenges seen in Papua New Guinea. After the delivery mothers are rushing the baby to the clinic and they are diagnosed as HIV positive, and it’s too late."

But fewer than three per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Papua New Guinea receive anti-retroviral medications.

John says more women need to have greater access to legal rights and there have to be steps to end domestic violence.

Papua New Guinea’s churches and faith-based organizations are also involved in HIV/AIDS programs aimed at reducing stigmatization and discrimination.

Eddie Kekea, an AIDS counselor at the Anglican Church division of Education,  based in the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby, says a challenge is changing male behavior to curb domestic violence and promote safe sex.

"We have one strategic plan through a framework by UNAIDS.  But as far as I am concerned the behavior change in men is progressing at a slower rate; and it’s a challenge not only to the churches but to other civil societies as well," said Kekea.

Kekea says the churches themselves have succeeded in dealing with stigma and discrimination within their own organizations and have integrated HIV programs that have led to a better understanding of the impact of AIDS on both individuals and communities. 

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid