AIDS Awareness Campaigner
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Date Posted: Tue, Dec 05 2006, 11:16:58am
The visit yesterday (Dec. 4) by a world renowned leader and former US President is truly an eye-opener for such a small country as PNG!
(The National, Monday, December 4, 2006)
By DANIEL KORIMBAO
GET tested and know your HIV status — that’s the message from former United States president Bill Clinton.
The 42nd US president flew into the country early yesterday morning and in the afternoon signed a memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in Parliament House.
Under the MoU signed between the Government of PNG and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, anti retroviral drugs and diagnostics will be supplied for adults and children affected by the virus.
Mr Clinton said PNG was among the world’s emerging crisis areas.
He said although the HIV prevalence rate was still relatively low, the trend was alarming.
He commended the Government for providing the leadership in the fight against AIDS in PNG.
Mr Clinton said in the world today, 90% of HIV sufferers do not know their HIV status.
He said Papua New Guinea was small enough for everyone to know their HIV status.
He said this was very important, especially for women and children, who are the most vulnerable.
In PNG, 1,200 children die of AIDS every year, according to Health Minister Sir Peter Barter.
Children with AIDS in PNG will benefit under the Clinton Initiative.
The former US president said his foundation had negotiated to make these drugs available to children at an affordable price.
The Prime Minister hailed Mr Clinton’s visit to PNG, saying his presence will raise the profile of awareness on HIV/AIDS in PNG.
“You are helping us to help those infected including the most vulnerable, our children, who have contracted the AIDS virus,” the Prime Minister said.
Knowing your HIV status is the message being pushed this World AIDS Week.
Last Friday, during World AIDS Day celebrations, leaders including Sir Peter Barter, Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane and Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu were publicly tested for HIV.
Sir Peter said in 2005, a mere 4,000 people were tested.
In 2006 to date, more than 10,686 had been tested and whilst this represented a substantial increase, our target for 2007 should be no less than 100,000, he said.
“It is then we will have a better idea about the HIV prevalence rates in PNG. Already we know we have the highest prevalence rate in the Pacific region,” he said.
Mea Gaudi, a person living with AIDS, was left in tears when Clinton shook her hands and hugged her.
Clinton flew out to Vietnam last night to continue his global effort to fight HIV/AIDS and poverty.
He promised to return for a longer stay, and to meet those infected with HIV, who would benefit from the efforts of his foundation.
Under the MoU signed, the Clinton Foundation will provide laboratory infrastructure and training of staff, develop standard operating procedures; procure and supply management of HIV related materials; put as many women and children as possible on AIDS related treatment; support the extension of medical services to rural areas; strengthen monitoring and coordination; and, train every grade of health worker to provide successful care for those living with HIV/AIDS.
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