Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s government on thursday rejected a report which predicted that up to a quarter of the nation’s population could be infected with HIV/ AIDS by 2020 and up to a million people could die of AIDS and HIV in the Pacific country, reported by People’s Daily Online.
The report, which was released earlier on thursday, was from the Center for Independent Studies, an Australian agency. More than one-third of the adult population in Papua New Guinea could die of AIDS-related causes within 20 years if the spread of HIV is not controlled in the country.
According to the report, if HIV prevention measures are not increased, the virus could have a negative impact on the country’s economy and labor force. The report estimates that 118,000 people, or 2% of the population, living in Papua New Guinea are HIV-positive and that HIV prevalence will be 18% by 2010 and 25% by 2020.
Young women in the country are being targeted by residents who believe that HIV is spread through witchcraft. Tobias, study author, said that there were about 500 attacks on women in the past year that involved torture, sometimes for days, to obtain “confessions” from the women and that some of the attacks resulted in murder. The government has not acknowledged the “actual and potential dimensions of the spread of HIV/AIDS and its effects,” Tobias said, adding, “The problem has been coming for a while, and it is snowballing.”