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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 13, 2001 – Post-Courier)---A report released by the National AIDS Council revealed that the number of newly detected HIV/AIDS cases continues to rise in the country.

Health Minister Ludger Mond issued a statement yesterday saying that 242 people had died from AIDS-related illnesses, 1,153 were living with AIDS and 3,428 were reported to be HIV-positive since the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported up until December 31.

Mr. Mond said reports also revealed that 63.7 percent of newly reported HIV cases were diagnosed in the National Capital District, while the Highlands provinces were running second with 24.9 per cent and the remaining 11.4 per cent were detected in the other 14 provinces.

A review of 337 HIV-positive cases reported at the Port Moresby General Hospital STD clinic indicated that 32 percent were from the Highlands provinces, 11 percent were from other provinces while 57 percent did not disclose their province of origin.

He said of the five Highlands provinces, the Western Highlands had taken the lead with a total of 304 HIV cases reported over the last 10 years.

Mr. Mond said: "The quarterly surveillance update also revealed that of the 551 patients who reported their occupations 21 percent were housewives, 10 percent farmers or villagers, 5 percent office or shop workers and professionals and 3 percent in unskilled work. Students recorded 2 per cent and the high-risk group (sex workers) scored 8 per cent.

"An alarming concern in the report is that in close to 9 percent the mode of transmission is from mother to baby," Mr. Mond said. This was the highest in the Asia-Pacific region. The next highest was Thailand, which recorded a proportion of about four per cent, Mr. Mond said.

"The estimated number of people infected with HIV in PNG is in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 in the year 2000."

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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