PNG SEX INDUSTRY RAISES HIV/AIDS WORRIES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 4) - The
illegal sex industry is increasing in Papua New Guinea and must be controlled to
stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, a top academic has said. 

While not legalized, the industry must be regulated in some way,
so the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic can be controlled, president of the PNG
Medical Society and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences
of the University of Papua New Guinea Professor Mathias Sapuri told the
Post-Courier at the week-long medical symposium in Mt Hagen. 

Meanwhile, the National Capital District provincial program
adviser for the National AIDS Council Secretariat Wilfred Peters said better
strategic planning would take place to co-ordinate activities. 

In his paper titled "Sex Work on The Rise in PNG", Mr
Peters revealed recent and hidden statistics on the illegal sex industry, which
have been obtained through the implementation of a project called NCD 29.

The project, established in 2002, targeted sex workers in 29
sites in NCD with the aim to reduce sexually transmitted infections among them
and their clients.

About 400 sex workers operated in the 29 sites, ranging from 10
to 18 per site. 

They included male sex workers and some who were identified as
HIV-positive in a previous study. 

Based on the methods for estimating populations at risk by
global standards, it was estimated that between 9000-10,000 sex workers operated
in PNG.

The study interviewed 246 sex workers, 242 female and four
males. 

Thirty per cent of the sex workers did not have formal education
and hosted 4.8 clients a day. 

Thirty-four per cent were divorced or separated, 33 per cent
were single, 15 per cent were married, 10 per cent had remarried and widows made
up 9 per cent. 

Seventy per cent of the respondents said they have not used
condoms with clients because the clients would always pay extra for unprotected
sex and the sex workers have very little to say unlike with their boyfriends or
husbands. 

Considering the number of clients — 4.8 per day and the number
of HIV-positives who operate in these sites daily, it was estimated that about
1600 clients were infected every year.

The project is being absorbed by Save The Children, a private
organization, in order to take it other provinces and safeguard affected
children.  

September 4, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

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