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By James Apa Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Feb. 10, 2000 - The National)---The Australian government has pledged K 58 million (US$ 19.06) towards sexual health projects for a five-year period.

This was announced by Dr. Sue Crockett, the adviser for planning and management for AusAID on sexual health projects in the country, during a visit to a Western Highlands Provincial AIDS Committee meeting this week.

Dr. Crockett said that the money will used mostly on laboratories and clinics and to monitor high risk groups and study the development of HIV/AIDS in the country.

She said priority will be given to provinces with established provincial AIDS committees with good plans approved by provincial executive councils to fight the deadly disease.

Dr. Crockett was accompanied by Bernard Kaupa, the Sexually Transmitted Disease Controller in Port Moresby with the National AIDS Council.

The purpose of their trip was to look through the provincial five-year plan prepared by the Provincial AIDS Committee.

She said that this would be the biggest amount given by the Australian government on a multi-sectoral project.

She congratulated the Western Highlands AIDS committee for its achievements over the past years.

Dr. Crockett also said that she was worried at the alarming increase in the number of new HIV cases in Port Moresby and Western Highlands.

She said one out of 10 patients seeking treatment at the sexually transmitted disease clinic is found to be HIV positive in the nation’s capital.

The chairman of the Provincial Aids Committee, Pastor James Koi, thanked the Australian government for its help to the AIDS program in the country.

He said his committee’s goal was to improve ways to control and prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

He also thanked the provincial government for giving K 10,000 (US$ 3,286) to the committee.

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

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