IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis (06.18.2013)
Indonesia’s National AIDS Commission reported that efforts to increase HIV awareness among residents of Tanah Papua—Papua and West Papua provinces—were making slow progress. HIV prevalence in Tanah Papua was 2.4 percent (30,000 people) compared to the national average of 0.3 percent in 2012, according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. HIV incidence has increased annually in Tanah Papua since 2005; West Papua reported 535 new cases in 2012, and Papua reported 3,028 new cases.
Since HIV is more prevalent among Tanah Papua residents ages 15–24 (3 percent), government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have introduced a variety of HIV education efforts. The Papua provincial government partnered with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to incorporate HIV education into Papua provincial schools through curriculum development, teacher training, and HIV policy support. Although some teachers remained reluctant to talk about sexual transmission of HIV, 876 primary and secondary teachers have received the training. UNICEF planned to extend training to teachers in rural areas of West Papua and Papua. However, more than a third (38 percent) of children ages 7–15 in these provinces do not attend school. Youth and Protestant church clubs have provided an alternate venue.
In addition, many remote villages do not have mobile phone contact. The Indonesian government has set up units in Tanah Papua to accelerate infrastructure development and has established local commissions to raise awareness in 19 of 29 Papua districts and all of West Papua’s districts. In partnership with Caritas Australia, a local NGO in Papua’s Merauke district has broadcast HIV education messages through radio programs and concerts. As recently as 2005, HIV-infected people in Merauke were “shunned” by their families, but more people now are more accepting and more willing to be tested for HIV. Current HIV prevention messages feature young people instead of politicians.