Thursday, April 3, 2008

Papuan Tragedy

On Tuesday night I watched an excellent Foreign Correspondent report on HIV in Papua New Guinea, called Papua in Peril.
According to the program, the HIV infection rate in PNG is the highest in the world after Africa due to a combination of lack of education, cultural promiscuity, and silence about sexual activity.
The saddest thing I heard was that there are more housewives with HIV than prostitutes - not that I would wish one group to have a higher rate than the other, it just means that there are a LOT of men bringing this illness home.
The whole report was eye-opening and very sad. These people have enough difficulties to live with, without adding HIV/AIDS to the mix. 
I think that in the next 30 or 40 years, the world will become a very different place.


The Little Medic said...

It won't be long (indeed it may already be happening) before the Solomon Islands is overrun with HIV and AIDS.

When I was there last summer, there were very few confirmed cases but it sounds like it is getting closer. There were some signs of basic sexual education but I don't think this stops the promiscuity.

The Girl said...

It is tragic, isn't it?

For so many of these countries, lack of education and ignorance, combined with an unwillingness to acknowledge their vulnerability or change their ways is combining to form a massive catastrophe.

Another of the scary things is the number of people who would have it, but will never be diagnosed because of a lack of resources and education.

It is sad enough in countries like ours, that have the drug treatments available, but in these places where HIV infection means certain death for entire families, many dying before they even know they have the disease, it is just too much for words.

Harry said...

It's such a shame, but changing hearts and minds is a near impossible task.

Strange to think that 30-40 years ago HIV and AIDS were non-existant as far as we were aware. Who knows what'll crop up when we're doctors.

The Girl said...

It would be nearly impossible to change things for the current generation of adults, except treat after the fact.

If we act now, perhaps future generations will be more viable.