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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 3, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Girls between the ages of 15-19 are the most infected with the HIV/AIDS virus, according to statistics revealed at a World Press Freedom Day seminar in Port Moresby.

Data presented by Dr. Ninkama Moiya stated that 118 Papua New Guinea girls were reportedly infected with the killer disease between 1987 and December last year. This compares with only 30 boys of the same age group during the same period of time.

"This fact alone speaks for itself, that girls are fast becoming infected with the virus because they are weaker and may not be able to protect themselves against the spread of this disease," he said.

Dr. Moiya was speaking on behalf of the National AIDS Council (NAC).

The seminar is part of a week of media freedom activities organized by the Papua New Guinea Media Council to mark World Press Freedom Day.

The statistics he presented were provided by the council and the Health Department.

Dr. Moiya said most of the infected people are between the ages of 15-29.

The most common mode of transmission is through unprotected heterosexual intercourse (90.9 per cent) and the second common mode of transmission is perinatal (8.2 percent) from mother to child or father to mother and then to the child, Dr. Moiya said.

He said the only way avoid infection is to abstain from sex, use condoms and in the case of married people to be faithful to one’s spouse.

The statistics Dr. Moiya presented stated that a total of 970 new HIV cases were reported last year, an increase of 28 percent over the number reported in 1999.

The cumulative total of confirmed AIDS cases reported reached 1,153 by the end of December 2000 and the total number of reported deaths reached 237.

By the end of December 2000 the cumulative total of reported HIV antibody positive cases reached a total of 3,428.

Dr. Moiya also stated that the number of HIV cases in the National Capital District had reached 2,225 while the number of confirmed AIDS cases was 830.

The report also stated that number of reported HIV cases is continuing to rise rapidly in the Highlands region and Morobe province.

The Western Highlands province has the second highest figure (reported) with a total of 304 HIV cases.

He said Western province, on the border with Australia and Indonesia, also noted a gradual increase in the number of cases.

The figures presented were that 63.7 percent of newly reported HIV cases were diagnosed in NCD and 24.9 percent in the Highlands provinces. The remaining 11.4 percent was detected in the other 14 provinces.

A review of available reported data shows that the HIV prevalence in different occupational groups is as follows:

Health Secretary Dr, Puka Temu, who also presented a paper on another topic at the seminar, said education awareness was the key to the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Temu said the best possible way to do this is to include awareness in the education department’s curriculum so that children and young people can choose healthy behavior.

"All of us must play the role of being health communicators," he 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: 

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