FAREWELL CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR PNG HIV/AIDS COUPLE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 21, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---For Thomas, Christmas 2000 will be remembered forever. The man from Goroka and his wife were given the best Christmas present ever, two airline tickets to travel home from Port Moresby, something they had long awaited after learning last year that they were HIV positive.

Friends Foundation director Tessie Soi, who was at the airport to see them off, said that after the couple was shown on an HIV/AIDS documentary that the foundation had put together for World AIDS Day, their relatives shunned them.

Only a few friends showed up at the airport to bid them goodbye.

"This has not dampened their spirits and the two are looking forward to going home. Their family back at home is aware of their fate and some are looking forward to seeing them.

"They have already lost a son to the disease," she said.

Thomas’ big brother also died from the disease early this year.

Meanwhile, the National Aids Council received computer equipment and two checks worth more than K 300,000 (US$ 100,200) from a United Nations agency, UNICEF, this week for work on HIV/AIDS awareness.

Director Dr. Clement Malau said the money would be used for four major regional antenatal clinic workshops, HIV/AIDS advocacy billboards at 22 locations throughout the nation and equipment to support the NAC information unit.

He said: "The money obtained from UNICEF will mainly be used for major concerns and that is workshops on antenatal clinics and set it up and pre-test counseling.

"The donation would also strengthen the mother to child transmission awareness, as we found that we really need to look at that matter."

He said that in line with the AusAID plan, the focus and design of the project would mainly be based in the main centers of Rabaul, Lae, Mount Hagen and Port Moresby.

Meanwhile, UNICEF communication officer Taufique Mujtaba said that their organization has always been there to support such health projects and gave assurances that they would continue to assist the Health Department and the PNG government in any way concerning health matters.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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