PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 5) - Children as young as nine years old and babies are among the 466 new cases of HIV/AIDS recorded in Papua New Guinea during the past six months. 

This is an increase of 30 percent since the last quarterly report of 2002, released in December.

The babies were infected through their mothers either while in the womb, during delivery or from breastfeeding. 

The March 2003 report published by the National AIDS Council and Department of Health, however, does not state how the young children as old as nine years old get infected, although HIV/AIDS counselors had told the Post-Courier that some of them were getting infected through sexual abuse, even by their immediate families members. 

There are also others who may have been sexually active at a very young age. 

The latest quarterly report also states that PNG now has 7,036 people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS since the country first reported an HIV/AIDS case in 1987.

According to the report, the number of AIDS cases did not reflect an accurate account of AIDS cases because the figures were only of those who had been tested, while it was estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 had yet to be tested.

Currently, there is no formal AIDS or HIV/AIDS related deaths notification system in place to keep an account of the number of people that are dying from AIDS. 

Of the newly reported 466 cases, 293 were reported in the National Capital District, followed by Western Highlands Province with 96, Morobe, 34 and Enga with 20. 

A few other provinces reported between one to four new cases during the year. 

This does not mean that the people being tested positive were from these provinces, but it is believed there were more people from these provinces going for tests than people in other provinces.  

September 5, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:


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