A delegate to the Pan Pacific Gathering for HIV+ People has said that a traditional practice in the Pacific country of Papua New Guinea puts young males at risk of sexual contact from village elders.

GayNZ.com reports that the PNG delegate, a transgender woman, spoke out during a closed session at the Auckland conference.

120 HIV activists are attending the conference.

She said that a traditional practice of placing youths together in a special house in the village leaves them vulnerable to sexual contact with older males.

The delegate said that openly gay or trans people face discrimination.

Papua New Guinea is currently facing a situation that the United Nations AIDS Agency has described as “really getting out of hand.”

Diagnoses have increased by 30 per cent each year since 1997.

In a 2007 report, the UN said Papua New Guinea accounted for 90 per cent of all HIV infections in the Oceania region.

Australia’s representative for HIV/AIDS, Annmaree O’Keeffe, predicted that half a million people could be infected over the next two decades.

AIDS is mostly spread in the country through heterosexual intercourse, however an AIDS research group also found that half of the new infections were caused by gay sex.