By ROBROY CHICKI
THE REMOTE Lower Jimi government and mission station of Koinambe in Western Highlands province now has a HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) centre. People in this disadvantaged part of the country can check their HIV status instead of traveling far to Mt Hagen for that.
The new centre was funded by the AusAID Church Partnership program (CPP was opened on World AIDS Day last year.
AusAID program officer for Democratic governance Andrew Yuangi while opening the new VCT centre said the Australian Government spends K70 million every year through its CPP project to allow such developments to happen not only within the health sector but other areas like education as well.
The opening was also witnessed by a representative from the Department of National Planning and Monitoring Gertrude Kilepak. Projects such as the Koinambe VCT centre are approved by the Department of National Planning.
The VCT center was made available by the Anglican Church HIV/AIDS office through the churches partnership program (CPP). According to Anglican Church HIV/AIDS coordinator Matthew Kuraewae the VCT center is the first of its kind in the area and will serve more than 6,000 people in this very remote area.
He said even though a lot of awareness is carried out on the dangers of HIV/AIDS, many remote areas like Koinambe still do not know much about effects of the epidemic due to low levels of literacy in the area.
Mr. Kuraewae said the providence of such HIV facilities would make people in such remote areas aware of the epidemic and take extra precautions while engaging in sexual activities and also to know their HIV status.
The VCT center will make it easy for these rural people to check their HIV status at their doorsteps rather than wasting their time and paying more than K30 to travel all the way to Mt. Hagen or Banz to have checks.
Mr. Kuraewae said they have also set up home based care (HBC) and a drop-in centre at Koinambe to cater for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
He said people in most remote parts of PNG are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS because many are illiterate and have less knowledge about the epidemic. Therefore such facilities make people see the dangers and realities of the deadly disease and avoid it.