BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS JOIN HIV/AIDS BATTLE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 4, 2001 -- The National)---Leaders on Bougainville, North Solomons province have joined in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

They have vowed to do all they can to prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading among the island's 245,000 people.

The leaders made the commitment in front of the director of the National AIDS Council Secretariat, Dr. Clement Malau, and representatives from the United Nations Children's Fund and AusAID.

The delegation was on Bougainville to deliver an AusAID-sponsored vehicle to the provincial AIDS committee.

While on the island, Dr. Malau and his team also had the opportunity to meet with Governor John Momis and the President of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui. Both men promised to personally get involved in the battle against HIV/AIDS and prevent the disease from spreading on the island.

Mr. Kabul said: "We are serious about the HIV/AIDS issue and we will stand firm to address it with whatever means we have."

For Dr. Malau, the trip was an eye opener. He said: "The biggest lesson from Bougainville was leaders there are very serious about the epidemic on all sides -- the BPC and government.

"This has illustrated that the government is responsible and leaders are taking the HIV/AIDS issue seriously and are prepared to take whatever means they can to combat the disease."

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

Provided by Vikki John VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au" target="_blank">(VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au

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