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Papua New Guinea has the highest HIV prevalence amongst the Pacific nation with the highest HIV prevalence rate of 0.8 percent among the age group of 15-49 years of age.
Regional Manager for the National Aids Council Secretariat, Valentine Tangoh said at the First HIV Summit for PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and Aids.
Whilst presenting on the current prevalence case in PNG, he said that the Highlands region has a prevalence rate of more than 01 percent in HIV cases placing Enga Province as the leading province, followed by Morobe Province with 0.77 percent, NCD with 1.29 percent and Western Province with 1.1percent.
He said it is more concentrated in certain geographical locations within key population and groups but it is clear that it is mostly concentrated in the Highlands region with the prevalence rate more than 1percent.
HIV prevalence 1 percent or more is recorded mainly in the four highlands provinces.
Enga has a prevalence rate of 1.7 percent; Jiwaka has a 1.6percent rating, Western Highlands with 1.3 percent and Eastern Highland with a 1 percent rating.
“Studies also indicate a high prevalence of HIV among female sex workers at 19%, male sex workers at 8.8% and 23 percent among transgender males.”
He said the main purpose of this summit is unite all church leaders to inform and empower Heads of Churches in PNG on the current HIV Status, reports and studies as well as achievements and the response gaps of HIV and AIDS of the country.
This will create an opportunity for heads of churches to deliberate on HIV and related sensitive issues that are affecting the country and how they can advocate as a collective voice to deal with these issues.
Meanwhile, the Government of Papua New Guinea must increase domestic funding to support church programs delivered to addressing the root cause of gender violence and HIV/ Aids transmission.
This was stressed by Cardinal Sir John Ribat at the first ever HIV Summit for PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS.
Cardinal Ribat said the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS is an association of heads of churches who have joined forces to demonstrate their leadership support and commitment towards addressing root causes of HIV.
“This includes other related issues or cross cutting issues in PNG,” he said.
Formed in 2010, PNGCLA plays a significant part and supporting role as one of the coordinating arms of the National Aids Council responsible for coordination of all HIV related activities implemented by churches.
Cardinal Ribat said the Department of Community Development, Religion and Youth must be seen to be effectively communicating and coordinating activities with the faith based organizations in terms of addressing gender based violence.
He adds that if the government is serious about addressing gender based violence in the country, the government must work with recognised church organisations like PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS and those also working with them in the coordination and implementation of the projects and programs.
“As the chairman of the PNGCLA on HIV and AIDS, I also take this time to thank our valuable partners like the National Aids Council Secretariat, UNAids for providing the capacity support to our secretariat and most importantly; the office of the Prime Minister and the National Executive Council (NEC), National Gaming Control Board as well as the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs for making funds available to stage this national historical event.”.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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