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By Allan Paniu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 4) - The Australian government contributes approximately AU$20 million [US$14.8 million] per year to support the fight against HIV and AIDS in Papua New Guinea.

The main project ,called the National HIV/AIDS Support Project (NHASP), works hand in hand with the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) to reduce the epidemic that PNG is now facing.

The role of NHASP is to educate and conduct awareness about HIV/AIDS, counseling, care, clinical services and addressing stigma.

Head of AusAID in PNG Margaret Thomas commended the initiative taken by the Australian NRL rugby players who visited the Joyce Bay (Horse Camp) settlement last Friday to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and violence against women.

"Activities like the one at Horse Camp were an example of how sport can be used to strengthen communities and promote behavioral change.

"I am also pleased that sporting leaders, PNG and Australians alike, are keen to help raise awareness of important issues facing PNG’s future," she said.

According to AusAID figures collected from all the PNG provinces, the current HIV/AIDS situation showed that the total adult population (15 to 49 years) is 2.75 million. Of this, it is estimated that around 65,000 people have been infected with HIV.

October 5, 2006

The National:

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