23 Jun 2004

PNG piloting an HIV/AIDS peer education programme to stem rising rate of infection

10:35 am on 23 June 2004

The European Union has committed almost 4-million US dollars to fund five years work on HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea.

The EU, under its sexual health program, is to pilot a project using ordinary people working within government and private institutions, to teach their peers about HIV/AIDS.

Eight thousand cases have been reported since 1987 but the World Health Organisation believes there could be as many as another 14-thousand unreported cases and the disease is now considered to be an epidemic in PNG.

A mass awareness campaign in 1999 largely failed to change behaviour, so the peer education programme which has been used successfully through Asia and Africa, is being piloted, to stem the rate of infection.

The EU's resident technical advisor, Dr Ute Schumann, explains how it works.

"The peer educators will work with their peer groups, with whom they are already in contact or relationship. They will get back to their groups and with the responsibility to raise the issue of HIV/AIDS prevention during one hour a week over a period of a couple of months"