Papua-New Guinea May Be on Verge of HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Papua New Guinea is likely to experience a massive increase in HIV cases similar to sub-Saharan Africa, reports the Australian government foreign aid agency, AusAid. Dr. Jenny Gordon told Reuters that AusAid has had a "real concern about HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea for some time." The agency is concerned that the disease is not perceived as a problem there, she said.

"There are many similarities between Papua New Guinea and Africa. There is a very large commercial sex industry, a lot of people coming into cities and then going back to villages, and very high rates of sexually-transmitted infection." Her research indicates that if HIV infection rates in Papua New Guinea follow those seen in Kenya, the population between the ages of 15 and 49 will decrease by 13% by 2020. If a high impact is experienced, similar to Zimbabwe, the population in the same age group will drop by about 38%.