Thursday, December 04, 2008



Papua New Guinea like the rest of the world has commemorated the World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, 2008. 

University of Vudal officials took part in the awareness in and around the Gazelle area.  The theme was ‘Leadership – Stop AIDS.’ 

We have seen on media millions of people around the world have been observing this important event. 

Leaders and representatives of different organisations have written and spoken their perspective of the incurable disease.

The question we, as individual should ask as citizens of Papua New Guinea when we saw hundreds and thousands of people in red walking the streets of our provinces on Monday December 1, 2008 is: “What have I learned from that great event (World AIDS Day) in the history of my life?”

The global HIV/AIDS epidemic has taught us many important lessons.

It has confirmed the importance of socio-economic and cultural factors in health.

 It has shown that when human rights are not protected, people are more vulnerable to disease.

 And also HIV/AIDS epidemic is a rapidly changing phenomenon. 

Statistics are in constant flux.

Perhaps the most sobering lesson of the past 10-plus years is that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has not turned out to be a disease outbreak that science can quickly bring under control.  Both a vaccine and a cure remain elusive. 

There are no quick fixes, technological or other wise, to prevent new infections or eliminate the lingering societal impact of millions of AIDS deaths among individuals in their peak productive and reproductive years.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has been a personal tragedy for millions of people throughout the world – both those who have suffered with and died from AIDS as well as those who struggle with it still. 

It is these men, women, and children who have borne the brunt of the epidemic, often with inspiring dignity and courage.

Not only a personal tragedy, AIDS has also proven to be a social challenge, a cultural catharsis, a political quagmire, and a scientific puzzle.

 Perhaps more than any other threat to the public health in modern times, the AIDS epidemic has entangled not only individuals but also families and friends, cultures and communities, cities and nations throughout the world.

 It has cut across race and ethnicity, class and education, age and religion, gender and sexual orientation, challenging the compassion and ingenuity of humankind at every turn.

In knowing that the leaders of this beautiful country should take this issue into serious consideration because HIV/AIDS issue has become the greatest threat to the global public health. 

Therefore, HIV prevention cannot be viewed as a one-time intervention; it must be accepted as a continuous, multigenerational effort that extends well into the lifetimes of our children and their children. 

Thinking long – term and remaining committed are the key characteristics needed in both science and prevention in order to maximise the chances of conquering HIV.

The fact that HIV and its repercussions will be with us for generations implies the need for a sustainable response, one that encourages openness about the epidemic among individuals and communities and that builds up their coping capacity.

 Among other things, coping means lifelong acceptance and inclusion of people with HIV/AIDS in the household or community and the adjustment of personal behavior to the lifelong risk of HIV infection.

Government agencies should work with nongovernmental organisations as we all realise that community involvement would be a necessary component of successful prevention efforts.

 Governments and community-based organisations should collaborate to provide services in the area of prevention and in providing medical care and social services for the increasing numbers of people with HIV – related disease.

 Sadly, many of the hundreds of thousands of people hidden below the iceberg’s trip became ill and died – those who were infected during the first five years of the epidemic but didn’t know it.

In terms of future challenges, what we do about AIDS depends on how we look on the epidemic – as a mere disease, a failure to respect religious codes, an outcome of differentials in sexual behavior and sexual decision making between men and women, a human rights issue, or another tragic correlate of poverty and deprivation, to name but a few of the paradigms that have evolved since the start of the epidemic.

The most hopeful lesson is that, even thou our approaches are imperfect; we are not powerless against the epidemic.

 Communities in the developing world, and even some industrialised nations as a whole, have managed to stabilise or reduce the rate of new HIV infections, provide care and support for those infected or affected, and combat fear and rejection of people living with HIV and AIDS. 

We can do the same here in our country (Papua New Guinea).

HIV/AIDS is a devastating disease that prematurely robs people of their health and lives.



  • The writer earned both bachelors and master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the United States of America and is currently working as the Director of Students Services at the University of Vudal, East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea.



1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:38 AM

    Mr. Kukne's article is generally a restatement of what is already known. As a person who has counselling degree in USA, it would be better if he ends his article with some best possible suggestive methods which could minimize the epidemic.