Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Subscribe
Search NSRC:      Advanced search  
Sexual Literacy Logo Sexual Literacy spacer American Sexuality Magazine Logo American Sexuality magazine spacer Sexual Research and Social Policy Logo Sexual Research and Social Policy spacer spacer spacer

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

buried alive in papua new guinea

Margaret Marabe, a humanitarian worker with an HIV/AIDs prevention organization in remote highlands of Papua New Guinea, reported to the international press that she had seen women and children weakened by HIV buried alive by family members.

As increasing numbers of women and children become too sick to take care of themselves, they move in with healthy family members who lack the knowledge about how the disease is spread. As the women become weaker, relatives fear that the the 'mystery' illness will spread throughout the household making the HIV positive person a serious liability.

According to a 2007 Estimation Report on HIV in Papua New Guinea, the overall rate of infection is slowing (at 30% year!); but the report also revealed an inequitable rise in HIV prevalence in the rural compared to the urban population. As is common in many communities worldwide, rural women are bearing the brunt of the epidemic and, according to Oxfam, are at "four times greater risk of contracting it (HIV)".

Education about how the disease is spread is limited in rural areas and miseducation has proven deadly. Within the void, dangerous superstitions have emerged and HIV positive women have been accused of witchcraft and other evil doings. The Centre for Independent Studies found that "(w)omen in PNG...have reportedly been blamed for causing the disease. Mobs have attacked women believed to be witches, and tortured or murdered them."

This is just one of many harrowing reminders that the fight against HIV/AIDs is far from over. It does not mean we're losing, it just means that HIV prevention needs to adapt to globalization. It needs to follow the path of the migrant from the the traditional epicenter of the epidemic: dense urban areas and back to the country. Maybe a new and improved PEPFAR could even lead the way? It may involve a few things that have not been hallmarks of US-led public health efforts: innovation and cultural competency. But maybe we can change? Than again... the Salem Witch Trials weren't that long ago!


Post a Comment

<< Home