I recently spent about three months in West Papua, mainly in the central highlands town of Wamena, Papua province. Government statistics suggest an HIV prevalence in Papua province of 2.4 % of the adult population, but people working on HIV prevention and treatment based mainly in indigenous-operated non-governmental organizations (NGOs) state that 1 in 5 of the young indigenous men and women they bring to a clinic for testing turn out to be HIV positive. HIV in Papua follows ethnic lines, with 68% of infections occurring in indigenous Papuans. As of September 2013 there were about 3600 HIV/AIDS cases in Jayawijaya, the regency (kabupaten) in which Wamena is located, mainly occurring among indigenous people, who may number in total about 80,000. Because Wamena offers HIV testing and treatment, a result of targeted international donor and government efforts to create a flagship site in a remote part of West Papua, it is seen as a comparative success, a case of technological expansion and service delivery under trying geographic, cultural and political conditions. In this report I describe current conditions that test this view, as well as point to the obvious: Wamena can only seem good in comparison with the absolute lack of HIV services beyond the city limits and in neighbouring rural and remote districts.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|