Papua New Guinea's National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) released Saturday new HIV/AIDS figures, showing a huge increase in the number of reported cases over a period of one year.
According to the Post Courier, a local daily newspaper, NACS said there were more than 17,000 HIV/AIDS cases reported last year, up from just under 14,500 reported in 2005.
But the figure may be higher, with many of the cases not being reported or not included in the NACS records.
HIV-AIDS in PNG is spreading through heterosexual sex and social conventions of promiscuity. The low status of women means they have little power to negotiate sexual relations, let alone condom use. Young women, often subject to rape, are the most vulnerable group in the country.
Grace Kariwiga from the Department of Health's Ante-natal Surveillance said trained laboratory technicians were needed to ensure the data collected at many of the collection points were properly processed and entered into the records.
Kariwiga said there is a real problem in the management of the data collection.
She said out of 3,514 mothers, who were tested in ante-natal clinics throughout the country, only 35 were found to be HIV- positive.
Test results for the rest were either discarded or not entered.
She said if laboratory technicians were fully trained, the total number of cases could be higher.