PNG CONTINUES STRUGGLE WITH HIGH HIV RATE

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Behavior patterns among men shows little change

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 4, 2011) - Social workers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) say that preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS is still a struggle.

PNG has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates within the Pacific region, at almost one percent of the population.

Concerns about the stigma and discrimination related to AIDS were discussed at a recent United Nations event in Thailand.

Eddie Kekea, a counselor at the Anglican churches in Port Moresby, says that cooperation between the churches is important to change behavior and foster education.

"Through counseling and all these things they are slowly changing their behavior," he said. "If this can be strengthened and...recognized, I am sure the system would work well. But as far as I am concerned the behavior change in men is progressing at a slower rate."

[PIR editor’s note: The Australian Aid government program predicted by 2012 over 208,000 people in Papua New Guinea will be living with HIV. More than 500 new HIV cases were reported in 2009.]

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