HIV/AIDS SUPPORT AFFECTED BY FAMILY FEARS IN PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 28, 1998 - PACNEWS)---A gradual breakdown in family ties in Port Moresby is placing unnecessary burdens on social workers looking after people suffering from the dreaded HIV-AIDS disease.

A senior medical social worker at the Port Moresby General Hospital, Tessie Soi, made the observation after her 15 years experience in trying to counsel patients, some of whom suffer from AIDS.

She says the common PNG kinship, called the 'wantok system' where people care for each other is not practiced in Port Moresby, as people tend to neglect relatives or friends suffering from HIV-AIDS.

She says this neglect is happening because people are ignorant about the effects of AIDS on healthy people.

Soi says a major task for her and other social workers in Papua New Guinea in the new year would be to educate people about the disease, and to encourage them to love and care for the HIV-AIDS patients.

PNG recorded up to 1,142 cases of HIV-AIDS cases this year, the highest among the Pacific countries, a figure authorities expect to increase.

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