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LAE, Papua New Guinea (November 29, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Lae is believed to have replaced Mt. Hagen as the Papua New Guinea urban center with the second highest number of HIV/AIDS cases after Port Moresby, senior health officers from Angau Memorial Hospital have announced.

An HIV/AIDS study undertaken by the Medical Research Institute, which will be released soon, has found that three per cent of the sex workers or prostitutes in Lae are HIV positive, which means they carry the virus that causes AIDS, and 48 percent of them also have contracted other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea, syphilis and others.

Wilfred Peter from the Medical Research Institute revealed the startling figures during an interview with reporters in Lae last Friday.

Mr. Peter said the study, which was carried out in Port Moresby and Lae, has been completed and soon will be published.

He said the findings were very frightening, and warned that at the current rate of increase in HIV/AIDS cases, Lae's working class could be severely affected.

He said the trend now is that with major construction work displacing the prostitution sites, the prostitutes are now moving back into the settlements.

Stressing her concern, the officer-in-charge of the Angau Memorial Hospital STD Clinic, Lucy Dally, said the clinic now sees up to 40 patients with STD cases a day, or over 200 each week.

The interview was part of a project initiated to increase public awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, leading up to World AIDS Day on Wednesday of this week.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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