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Papua New Guinea HIV/AIDS Cases Surge

About 220 new HIV/AIDS cases are being reported in Papua New Guinea every month, leading a tenfold increase from last year, according to local newspaper the National Monday.

"(The spread) has increased so rapidly that it has reached an alarming rate," said Parliamentary HIV/AIDS Committee Chairman Banare Bun, quoted by the National.

He said although statistics showed that only about 2 percent of the country's 5.4 million people were infected, "everyone is vulnerable."

Bun, who spoke last weekend at a joint meeting between his committee and the Parliamentary Referral Committee on Health and Family Welfare, said 90 percent of the transmission was through heterosexual contact without the use of condom.

"To address the spread of HIV/AIDS, we need to address the sex issue, especially when it is practiced without the use of condom," said Bun.

He said poverty was one of the contributing factors toward the rapid increase.

"Where there is an increase in poverty in a country, similarly there will be an increase in HIV/AIDS because of unprotected sex," said Bun.

He added that whether prostitution remained illegal or otherwise, the trade would continue, which forms another factor of rapid increase of HIV/AIDS cases.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2005)

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