Modern Papua New Guinea

By Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi | Go to book overview

Lawrence Hammar


AIDS, STDS, AND SEX WORK IN PAPUA NEW
GUINEA

GLOBALLY, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 25 and 30 million people are now infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the pathogen alleged to cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Altman 1996; Krieger 1996; Purvis 1997). As of 1992, ‘only’ 6,070 AIDS cases had been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) for countries in the Western Pacific/Southeast Asia region, but the situation is worsening (United Nations 1996:10). At 1995's end there was an estimated HIV antibody seroprevalence (or presence in blood samples of antibodies to HIV) in the Western Pacific of 43,500 (STD Nius 1995:2), a rate increasing so rapidly that some (e.g., Elford and Dwyer 1993: 259) predict that by the year 2000 there will be HIV epidemics greater than in North America and Europe combined. The official HIV antibody seroprevalence in Papua New Guinea climbed to 247 and 342 by the ends of 1994 and 1995, respectively, but the real numbers may be decimally greater (cf. van der Meijden and Malau 1991; O'Leary et al. 1993; Purvis 1997; The Health Worker 1995a:3; STD Nius 1995:1; Sarda and Harrison 1995).1 Papua New Guineans are infecting one another

1 Mounting a national HIV antibody serosurveillance program is incredibly complicated since one has accurately to link data derived from surveys conducted at particular sites (e.g., STD or antenatal clinics, army barracks) to an imputed ‘general population’ in whose members immune system distress can already be common. One must employ often unreliable, variably interpretable tests and report on findings derived therefrom without inducing public alarm or apathy (cf. van der Meijden and Malau 1991; NSRRT and Jenkins 1994; United Nations 1996; Whitaker and Edwards 1991; Mondia 1990; Mondia and Perea 1990; Gillett 1990:25).

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