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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Report finds HIV/AIDS a major threat for Melanesian states neighbouring PNG, particularly Solomon Islands

A new report on HIV/AIDS titled "HIV/AIDS: The Looming Asia Pacific Pandemic" says the Melanesian countries neighbouring Papua New Guinea should be extremely concerned about the spread of the virus among their populations.

The report from Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy, says PNG could lose a generation due to HIV/AIDS. Author Bill Bowtell, who is the Director of the HIV/AIDS Project says more needs to be done to address the sexual behaviour of young people in PNG and its neighbouring states Melanesian states.

The Lowy Institute for International Policy is an independent international policy think tank based in Sydney, Australia. Its mandate ranges across all the dimensions of international policy debate in Australia - economic, political and strategic - and is not limited to a particular geographic region.

Mr Bowtell adds half of Solomon Islands' population is under 15 years of age.

"You could envisage how quickly it could spread in that country which is undergoing a lot of stress and tension, a lot of dislocation internally. If the virus gets in there it might become very problematic very quickly. All of these countries must take it very seriously, particularly too on the Papua side and Indonesia."

Mr Bowtell proposes that strategies that have failed to cap and reduce the growth in the global and regional HIV caseload should be abandoned. He also suggests that Australia should join with like minded countries to reform international HIV/AIDS strategies and redirect funding priorities to support practical prevention and harm reduction policies, especially in low HIV prevalence countries.

The full report can be downloaded here Click to download the full report

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