3 Jul 2013

HIV/AIDS still poses challenge to PNG despite drop in prevalence

10:38 am on 3 July 2013

The leadership and advocacy advisor for the United Nations AIDS programme in Papua New Guinea says news the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic is being contained is good news, but needs to be treated with caution.

The Australian newspaper, The Age, reports fears that the unchecked spread of the virus would result in a pandemic have been allayed.

But Joanna Robinson says while she agrees prevalence levels are coming down, the virus still poses a formidable public health challenge to PNG.

"I agree with what it said in the article that prevalence levels are coming down nationally but the national prevalence figure doesn't necessarily give a true picture of the kind of regional or provincial situation. So there are certain provinces as there have always been in the Highlands and NCD which continue to have prevalence levels of around 1 percent as far as I can see from the data."

Joanna Robinson says it is thought that HIV is contained within certain communities, such as sex workers and the homosexual community, but there is still no data among those communities.