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PNG is running out of vital HIV drugs and people could die

A nurse helps move a patient dying of HIV-AIDS in Port Moresby (ABC)JASMINE ANDERSSON | Pink News

PORT MORESBY - Advocacy groups have warned HIV-positive Papua New Guineans could die if the country’s dwindling anti-retroviral drugs supply is not replenished soon.

Papua New Guinea is eating into its buffer supply of the HIV medicine after the government slashed the budget for the treatment.

“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 PNG.

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

The government has allocated K3.6 million to HIV/AIDS treatment drugs, down from K8 million in 2017.

And for the two years that follow, the drugs budget forecast is listed as zero.

Antiretroviral treatment is an essential treatment for people with HIV. It 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.

PNG’s health secretary Pascoe Kase has said stocks around the country are limited and that the government is in close contact with donor partners who can deliver stocks to the country with less than two months’ notice.


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Keith Jackson

"Are these fears overblown? There certainly seems to be a sensationalist element in some press reports.

"But underlying that is the real fear that, due to a lack of transparency from the Papua New Guinea government and the bare facts of a massive funding shortfall, Papua New Guinea’s HIV medication supply is no longer secure.

"For anyone living with HIV in the country, this is desperately concerning and they are right to demand answers."

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