28 Oct 2010

Former PNG UNAIDS co-ordinator optimistic about stopping epidemic

4:21 pm on 28 October 2010

Papua New Guinea's former country co-ordinator for the United Nations' joint programme on HIV/AIDS says he's more optimistic now about PNG's ability to manage the disease than he was when he took up the role four years ago.

Although Human Rights Watch data puts the number of people living with the virus at more than 140-thousand, Tim Rwabuhemba says official figures derived from antenatal testing bring that down to 60-thousand or point nine percent of the population.

Mr Rwabuhemba, who has just moved from his PNG role to its equivalent in Fiji, says more accurate figures won't be available until a new survey that includes men is launched, which he hopes will be sometime next year.

"As a result of the also improved surveillance we are getting to know the epidemic better and once you know the epidemic better then you are able to manage it and I think that is where, that's the situation that is prevailing in Papua New Guinea."

UNAIDS' Tim Rwabuhemba.