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Papua New Guinea is running out of vital HIV drugs and people could die

Jasmine Andersson April 25, 2018

Rachael from Kagua patiently awaits medical attention at the decrepid Tininga AIDS ward of Mount Hagen General Hospital, 16 August 2004, as the epidemic continues to increase annually by over 20 per cent across Papua New Guinea (PNG). In PNG, which has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the Pacific, over 90 per cent of HIV infections are from hetrosexual intercourse while another eight per cent are from mother to child. Half of those with HIV/AIDS are women aged between 15-34, the most economically productive age group. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

HIV-positive Papua New Guineans could die if the country’s dwindling antiretroviral drugs supply is not replenished soon, advocacy groups have warned.

The Oceanic nation is eating into its ‘buffer’ supply of the HIV medicine after the government slashed the budget for the treatment, reported ABC News.

“We’re talking about quite a serious situation … where we are now currently eating into our three- to six-month buffer stock of anti-retroviral treatment,” said David Bridger, the head of UNAIDS in Papua New Guinea.

 

(TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty)

The country, which accounts for 95 percent of all HIV cases in the Pacific, has seen its budget for the HIV drug plummet in the past year.

The government allocated 3.6 million Kina ($1.43 million) to HIV/AIDS treatment drugs, down from 8 million Kina ($3.18 million) in 2017, reports ABC.

And for the two years that follow, the drugs budget forecasting has been listed as empty.

O(TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty)

Antiretroviral treatment (ART) is an essential treatment for people with HIV.

ART stops the HIV developing into AIDS, and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

“Miracle potions” loaded with herbs and urine have been sold as methods to combat HIV in the midst of the shortage, said the news outlet.

The country’s Health Secretary Pascoe Kase has said that stocks around the country are limited and that they were in close contact with donor partners who can deliver stocks to the country with less than two months’ notice, according to RNZ.

More: AIDS, aids/hiv, Health, HIV, papua new guinea

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