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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Large Gathering to Talk on AIDS

September 3, 2003
Papua New Guinea Post Courier (09.02.03) - Wednesday,

More than 500 health professionals and researchers from Papua New Guinea and overseas are in Mt. Hagen for the 39th Medical Symposium, which began Monday. The PNG Medical Society is hosting the gathering, whose theme is "The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Papua New Guinea." Professor Mathias Sapuri, president of the PNG Medical Society and executive dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of PNG, said the devastation caused by the epidemic since the nation's first case was reported in 1987 has become a major concern for government, nongovernmental organizations and international communities.

"HIV/AIDS is no longer just a health problem. As the stereotype of PNG is rapidly changing, so also are the various dimensions of HIV/AIDS [social demographic, cultural, economic and gender issues]. It also carries with it a burden, not only to the victim but his/her family, relatives and the society at large," Sapuri said.

Papua New Guinea currently leads the other Pacific nations in the number of HIV infections, Sapuri said. In the North Capital District alone, about 100 new cases are reported each month at Port Moresby General Hospital.

Topics of the 48 papers to be presented include more effective ways to control the epidemic's spread; how to provide adequate care for infected persons; reports on mechanisms of transmission for better control; and treatment accessibility.

West Highlands Governor and former Prime Minister Paias Wingti welcomed the participants and commended the medical society for taking on such a challenging theme for the symposium.