HIV/AIDS In PNG Not As Prevalent As Once Projected

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Pandemic appears to have peaked in 2007-08

By Nellie Setepano

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 3, 2014) – Some early projections of HIV prevalence in adults have not been realized showing that PNG has not incurred as many fatalities as was estimated at the start of the AID/HIV pandemic.

According to World Health Organisation, the country’s improvements in the scale up of HIV testing and surveillance over the last decade has demonstrated that HIV has limited impact across the country as a whole, with a current national prevalence of 0.65 per cent reported in 2014.

For instance, projections estimated the HIV prevalence among the adult population would reach 18 percent by the year 2010 and by 2020, adult deaths would exceed 98,000 with a devastating 13 percent reduction in the size of the working age population and a 34 percent decrease in the size of the work force. All these were never realized.

World Health organization reports that since the first cases were reported in 1987, 39,145 cumulative HIV diagnoses have been reported to the end of July 2013. The 2014 HIV spectrum estimations and projections indicate approximately 30,000 people are currently living with HIV in country.

Furthermore, diagnosis of HIV peaked in 2007-2008 when over 5,000 cases were reported annually. This trend declined through to 2012, when 2,822 new cases were reported. Modeling using spectrum estimated 2,172 new HIV infections in 2013 and projects a marginal reduction in annual diagnoses to 2,031 by 2021.

Since the first cases were reported in 1987, 39,145 cumulative HIV diagnoses have been reported to the end of July 2013. The 2014 HIV spectrum estimations and projections indicate approximately 30,000 people are currently living with HIV in PNG.

According to WHO epidemic situation report, the epidemic can be best described as a mixed epidemic, with more populous urban areas carrying disproportionately more prevalent HIV infection in key populations (sex workers, MSM and transgender people) and rural areas characterized by geographical ‘hotspots’, more likely to be fuelled by high levels of (unprotected) sexual partner turnover and concurrency.

In rural areas the degree of HIV infection associated with sex work and or MSM transmission routes is undetermined.

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