AUSTRALIA’S DOWNER VISITS HIV/AIDS PROJECT IN PNG

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AUSTRALIA’S DOWNER VISITS HIV/AIDS PROJECT IN PNG

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 25, 2000 - Papua New Guinea Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer met frontline HIV/AIDS project workers in Port Moresby.

The meeting was for the Young Women Christian Association workers to brief Mr. Downer on the sex workers education program started by Australia’s aid program to train sex workers how to educate their peers in HIV/AIDS prevention.

It was also for the minister to announce Australia’s provision of $60 million (K100 million), over five years to support the Government of PNG’s national plan for HIV prevention and care through the HIV/AIDS support project.

This involves counseling, community care and support; keeping track of the spread of HIV/AIDS; improving clinical services and medical care; addressing policy, legal and ethical issues and supporting the National Aids Council Secretariat.

The program also oversees the distribution of condoms, provides training to help sex workers find other work and runs special self-help groups and outreach activities for young sex workers.

Mr. Downer said: "The project workers I met ... are targeting one of the key high-risk groups in PNG, as an estimated one in six commercial sex workers is HIV/ positive."

According to a world-leading demographer, Professor Jack Caldwell, 10 percent of Papua New Guinea’s adult population could be HIV positive in a dozen years, if the increase in the current infection rate continues.

"Australia’s support for the Government of PNG’s fight against the epidemic is part of Australia’s global commitment to HIV/AIDS programs, which I committed $A200 million in July," the minister said.

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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