HIV/AIDS Has Reached 'Epidemic' Stage in Papua
Pacific Press Release - IHRC-NZ
29 Oct 2009
HIV/AIDS prevalence in Papua has already reached the "generalized epidemic" stage, according to the health program coordinator for World Vision Indonesia.
"HIV and AIDS in Papua are no longer exclusive to high-risk groups, but also common among the general public," Dr. Ronald Gunawan said in the provincial capital Jayapura on Tuesday.
He said that among the indigenous population, the prevalence rate had reached 2.8 percent, much higher than the rate of 1.5 percent among immigrants.
Gunawan said the highest rate, 3.2 percent, was found in coastal and remote areas where health services were scarce.
"There are still many obstacles to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, particularly among indigenous people who live in remote areas," he said.
Information on the HIV threat and how it spreads, he said, has not yet reached many people because of geographical obstacles and language barriers. He said poverty, education and the quality of health care also played roles in the spread of the disease.
Gunawan said the spread of HIV/AIDS could be checked if the public was made more aware and given adequate information. He said it was important for the government to improve the quality of education, particularly in remote areas of the province.
He said the government also had to recruit doctors and health workers and post them around Papua to improve the quality and delivery of health services.
Gunawan said his organization was actively building a network with regional governments, the National AIDS Commission, other public social agencies and the media to fight the spread of the disease.