31
Aug
07

Papua New Guinea AIDS Crisis May Mirror Africa’s

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — Papua New Guinea’s AIDS epidemic may mirror the crisis in Africa as infections surge with more than 75 percent of sufferers unable to access drugs to manage the disease, the United Nations said.

“It could very much become an Africa-type situation if the required services are not in place,” Tim Rwabuhemba, Papua New Guinea coordinator for the United Nations AIDS agency, said in an interview from the capital, Port Moresby. “There is an urgent need for more HIV services across the board here.”

The nation of 6 million people now accounts for 90 percent of the Pacific region’s HIV cases and is one of only four Asia- Pacific countries experiencing an epidemic, according to the UN. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 60 percent of all people living with the HIV virus, a total of more than 25 million people.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, appeared in Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s and has spread to the remote highlands, a region where villagers didn’t come into contact with Europeans until the 1930s.

More than half a million Papua New Guineans will be infected with the virus by 2025, resulting in a 13 percent drop in the available workforce and a 1.3 percent decline in the $15 billion economy, AusAID, Australia’s development agency, said.

In 20 years, 117,000 children will have lost their mothers to AIDS and 70 percent of the country’s hospital beds will be needed for patients, it estimates. – click here for the rest of this article

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