More Serious Government Attention Needed to Curb HIV/AIDS in Papua

More Serious Government Attention Needed to Curb HIV/AIDS in Papua

, 15 August 2010


HIV/AIDS prevention in Papua should be made a government priority say legislators. (Antara Photo/Anang Budiono)

A legislator has called on the government to be more serious in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Indonesian province of Papua.

Yorris Raweyai made the remark in response to reports that 144 servicemen of the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Command had tested positive for the condition.

“This problem is actually an old case that has just been revealed to the public,” said Yorris, a member of the House of Representatives’ (DPR) Commission I, overseeing defense and foreign affairs.

The government should be more serious in handling and anticipating the spread of the deadly disease among the people and military personnel, he said.

“Prevention is not easy but if the government is serious, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua can be stopped,” he said.

The prevalence of the disease in Papua is the highest among all provinces in Indonesia.

The high prevalence of HIV/AIDS might partly be related to Papua’s demographic conditions and the influx of outsiders.

“The first case in Papua was found in Sorong and it was brought by Thai sailors. The question is whether the government can curb it or not,” Yorris Raweyai said.

HIV/AIDS cases can currently be found throughout Papua. “We need concrete action from the government and not to be dismissed,” he said.

Regarding HIV/AIDS cases within the military, Marthen Indey Hospital in the Papuan city of Jayapura has recorded that as of May 2010, 144 army personnel had contracted the deadly disease.

Four of them have died while the rest are still receiving medication, Head of the Marthen Indey Hospital, Yenny Purnama said.

In response to the situation, another member of House Commission I, Tubagus Hasanuddin, said the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) should provide medical treatment or discharge its affected personnel.

“If they have really been infected with the HIV/AIDS viruses, they should be discharged and given medical treatment immediately,” he said.