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September 13, 2007

No Proof for Papua New Guinea Burials

An investigation by the AIDS Committee of Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands has found no support for claims last month that HIV-positive people were being buried alive by family members who could no longer take care of them.

The committee’s deputy chairman Jeffery Hurums said that officers went to the area where the burials were said to have taken place and found no evidence that the claims were true.

Last month, an HIV-positive woman said she’d witnessed three HIV-positive people being buried alive in the rural highlands, and asked the government to work to ensure that awareness about the virus reached all parts of the country, including remote regions.

Her report came on the heels of a surge of news about stigma and a lack of information about HIV in the country, which accounts for the majority of HIV infections in the Oceania region.

Hurums says that articles about the woman’s claims “sent wrong signals to everyone including the international community here and abroad.”

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