Papua New Guinea releases new HIV prevalence estimates
26 August 2010
Approximately 0.92% of the adult population in Papua New Guinea was living with HIV in 2009, according to new estimates from the National Department of Health and the National AIDS Council Secretariat.
This latest round of estimates of HIV prevalence—carried out by a panel of national and international experts—is based on extensive data from antenatal clinics in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, Southern, Momase, and New Guinea Islands regions.
In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of health facilities in Papua New Guinea conducting HIV tests among pregnant women—from 17 in 2005 to 178 in 2009. New data collected at these facilities have provided a clearer picture of the country’s HIV prevalence than ever before.
“These new estimates have greatly enhanced our understanding of the scale and scope of Papua New Guinea’s AIDS epidemic,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, in an official visit to Papua New Guinea. “They provide an opportunity to redouble our efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.”
An estimated 34 100 people in Papua New Guinea were living with HIV in 2009. HIV prevalence was found to be the highest in the country’s Highlands and Southern regions, at 1.02% and 1.17%, with lower but increasing prevalence in Momase and New Guinea Islands, at 0.63% and 0.61%. Approximately 3200 people in Papua New Guinea were newly infected with HIV in 2009 and, that same year, some 1300 people died of AIDS.
Papua New Guinea had previously projected a higher national HIV prevalence for the year 2009, based on data from a relatively small number of rural and urban sites. The downward revision in estimates reflects—to a large extent—improvements in national disease surveillance systems. The new findings also indicate that the spread of Papua New Guinea’s HIV epidemic may be levelling off.
“The risk factors that contribute to HIV infection in Papua New Guinea have not changed,” said Mr Sidibé. “We cannot afford to be complacent or reduce investments in the country’s AIDS response.”