Merauke, Jubi – From January to June 2023, Merauke Regency in South Papua Province identified 60 new cases of HIV/AIDS. Inge Silvia, the head of the Reproductive Health Center at Merauke Regional General Hospital, during a press conference on July 27, 2023, said cases were discovered through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) initiatives.
The VCT tests were taken by over a thousand individuals, which included 665 sex workers, as well as civil servants and the general public. Among the sex workers, a total of five individuals tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
The 60 positive cases consisted of individuals from various backgrounds, including four civil servants, 11 private sector employees, 17 housewives, three laborers, two fishermen, three farmers, three students, four college students, eight unemployed individuals, and five sex workers.
The positive cases spanned different age groups, with three children aged 1-4 years, eight teenagers aged 15-19 years, 17 people aged 20-24 years, 24 people aged 25-39 years, six people aged 40-49 years, and two people aged 50-59 years.
Silvia emphasized the importance of VCT and encouraged more people to participate in the testing to enable better prevention efforts. Moreover, the sex workers who tested positive were prohibited from working in high-risk establishments such as localizations, bars, discotheques, and massage parlors, in an effort to reduce transmission risks.