27 May 2010

AIDS fears prompt health care changes

1:06 pm on 27 May 2010

Fears of the AIDS epidemic escalating in rural areas of Papua New Guinea have led to new efforts to decentralise health services.

An estimated three per cent of the population or about 28,000 people in PNG have tested positive for HIV.

The head of the UNICEF AIDS section in Port Moresby, Cristi Morf, says there is a growing number of testing and treatment sites as efforts to limit the spread of the disease are scaled up.

"We have about eighty seven per cent of the population live in the rural areas of Papua New Guinea, and some of the statistics show that this is where the epidemic is moving. So there's a real surge to try and get programming out to the higher burden provinces and those are the Eastern and Western Highlands, and Morobe, and the National Capital District."

Cristi Morf says new HIV data should be out next month and the government and voluntary sector are working together to strengthen health systems to combat HIV as well as other illnesses that could pose a threat to people in PNG.