Australia Gives Boost to Fight AIDS

Australia shows a sincere posture as a neighbour country to Indonesia, hopefully this will strengthen relationship between Indonesia and Australia. AIDS is a universal problem, by helping Indonesia in its domestic efforst to fight AIDS, Australia is not only helping Papuan Indonesian, but also helping the world.

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Reported by Dessy Sagita

(Jakarta Globe)`The city administration and the Australian government on Thursday signed an agreement to work together in tackling HIV/AIDS in the city.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jakarta is increasing quite significantly, especially among injected drug users. That is why we need all the help we can get,” said Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, who is also chairman of the Jakarta AIDS Commission, or KPAD, after the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Australian Ambassador Bill Farmer.

Fauzi said he believed the three-year partnership between Jakarta and Australia would produce significant results.

According to the MOU, the city administration and the Australian government would work together on HIV/AIDS prevention programs in 31 community health centers in Jakarta and 11 methadone therapy clinics.

The partnership would include free voluntary testing and counseling, access to sterile needles for injected drug users, peer education to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among school-aged children, and antiretroviral therapy for those who have tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS.

The Ministry of Health reported recently that as of October 2008, 47,000 people in Jakarta were infected with HIV and more than 70 percent of them were users of injected drugs.

Farmer said that over the next few weeks the Australian government would sign a similar MOU with other provinces including Banten, Central Java, and Yogyakarta.

“As a neighboring country, we’re proud to support Indonesia to fight against HIV spread and support the HIV-positive patients,” he said.

He also said that Australia has committed a total of 100 million Australian dollars ($64.8 million) for partnerships that would cover many areas of Indonesia over an eight-year period from 2008-15.

There are about 270,000 people living with HIV in the country, the UN said. Elsewhere in Indonesia HIV/AIDS is concentrated in high-risk populations. In Papua and West Papua provinces it has become an epidemic, the National Aids Commission said. Papua Province has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, at nearly 20 times the national average in the country, a 2007 government study reported.

Because of that, Farmer said, one third of the total Australian HIV/AIDS assistance would be allocated for programs in Papua.

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