Remarks by Ms Bronte Moules
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
International World AIDS Day Tuesday 1 December 2015
Australian High Commission, Port Moresby
Globally in 2014 more than 36 million people were living with HIV with 2 million of these are new infections.
In PNG more than 30,000 Papua New Guineas are living with HIV.
On December 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day by supporting this year’s theme: Know Your Status, Get treated and live longer. Today we are gathered to acknowledge those who have died from AIDS related illness, and further reflect on our efforts to help those who are living with the virus and those who are at risk of acquiring the virus both globally and here in PNG.
PNG has been responding to the HIV epidemic for more than 25 years. PNG is considered to have a HIV epidemic that is concentrated in certain geographical locations and to certain key populations.
Evidence suggests that key populations such as men and women who sell and exchange sex, men who have sex with men and those with transgender sexuality are particularly at risk of contracting HIV.
Currently the PNG national HIV prevalence is 0.65%. Close to 80% of people living with HIV are currently on antiretroviral treatment.
Improving health standards and controlling HIV for Papua New Guineans is a focus of Australia’s aid assistance to PNG.
Australia recognises the social and economic impact of HIV. There is a need to improve access to quality HIV prevention, care and treatment services for key populations in socially and economically concentrated locations, people living with HIV and AIDS and the general population in the high prevalence provinces.
We need to reflect on the stigma and discrimination occurring directly or indirectly to individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. As we commemorate World AIDS Day during the period of the 20 days of activism on gender based violence, we should not forget that most of the HIV infections are found amongst women and young girls, particularly those who have experienced sexual violence.
Australia is committed to working with PNG in its efforts to end violence against women. We have a strong focus in our development partnership on the prevention of family and sexual violence, and on access to services for survivors.
Violence against women is a significant human rights violation that severely limits women’s social, economic and political participation.
-it has a profound and devastating impact on women, their families and communities.
-it undermines a country’s social fabric and prevents women from achieving social and economic equality and advancement.
HIV also remains a significant development issue. Combined with violence against women, HIV limits the social and economic wellbeing and development of Papua New Guineans. HIV and AIDS related illness takes mothers away from children, children away from families.
Due to discrimination and stigma people living with HIV and AIDS are often deprived of education, access to care and treatment, and the ability to work and contribute to society and the economic development of their community.
People living with HIV face stigma and discrimination from health workers, family and the community. Stigma and discrimination restricts people living with HIV or AIDs from freely accessing voluntary counselling services to be able to determine HIV status and to commence treatment This significantly impacts on the ability of those living with the disease to access services.
Consistent with today’s theme – Know Your Status, Get Treatment and Live Longer Australia will continue, to collaborate with the National AIDS Council Secretariat and the National Department of Health and many civil society partners to address HIV by focusing in three areas: improving HIV service delivery; HIV advocacy; decreasing discrimination and stigma; and HIV capacity building and governance.
We acknowledge the strong involvement and experiences of those currently with living with HIV who help to ensure appropriate planning of resources to support the fight against HIV.
On this World AIDS Day 2015, the Australian Government congratulates the strong efforts of the PNG Government and civil society partners who have played and continue to play a critical role in responding to HIV.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome our two external gender and HIV community advocates to share their experiences with us and ask you all to join us for afternoon tea.