17 Dec 2003

Indonesian government told it must do more to fight HIV/AIDS

4:39 pm on 17 December 2003

An AIDS campaigner in Jakarta says the Indonesian government has to push an integrated approach to cope with the huge numbers with the virus in Papua province.

Papua has Indonesia's highest rates of HIV/AIDs with estimates that tens of thousands of people have the virus.

An Indonesian company is planning to produce anti-retroviral drugs at a lower cost than imports, but AIDs campaigners say drugs alone are not the answer in Papua and that an integrated response to the virus is needed.

Yen Rusalem of Action Stop Aids, says it is up to the government to take the lead.

"The government needs to take its responsability and push other institutions such as the church, the other religious groups, cultural organizations, the press and education ."

Mr Rusalem says education plays a crucial role in dispelling common local attitudes, for example, that taking antibiotics before having sex, will prevent the contraction of HIV/AIDS.