ENSURING that no baby is born with HIV is an essential step to achieving an HIV-free generation in PNG, Yoka Brandt of the United Nations Children’s Fund says.
Brandt, UNICEF’s deputy director who is visiting the country, said this
could be achieved if all pregnant women knew their HIV status and start the
anti-retroviral therapy immediately to protect their babies from contracting
“We can make an AIDS-free generation a reality by providing HIV testing
for all pregnant women and providing universal access to appropriate treatment
for all HIV-positive pregnant women who need it,” Brandt said.
Goroka Hospital last Thursday.
An estimated 25,000 people in PNG, including
3,000 children, are living with HIV. The majority of the children acquired the
infection from their mothers during pregnancy, labour, delivery or through
According to the 2014 data on the burden of HIV in PNG, nine
provinces – NCD, Enga, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka,
Hela, Western and Oro – have HIV prevalence higher than the national average of
“The impact of AIDS on children is both complex and multi-faceted.
Many suffer intense psychosocial and economic distress and are likely to leave
school to work to support their families,” Brandt said.
“This means they have
less access to basic services and that they are at higher risk of abuse and
exploitation – and ultimately at higher risk of becoming HIV-positive