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Last Updated: Aug 19th, 2006 - 22:18:38

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Papua New Guinea MP accused of spreading HIV
Mar 23, 2006, 17:44, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"It's the one that I would see that could have an African-type epidemic,"

A member of the Papua New Guinea parliament could become the first person in the South Pacific's biggest country to face court for knowingly infecting others with HIV virus, a report said Thursday.

The unnamed MP could be jailed under a 2003 law that made it an offence to knowingly pass on the HIV virus, The Nation newspaper in Papua New Guinea reported.

The paper said police were confident they had gathered enough evidence to prosecute after looking at medical records and interviewing the man's two partners before they died of AIDS.

The police investigation began after a complaint was made by relatives of one of the MP's partners. She died two weeks after being interviewed. A second partner of the MP was also interviewed by police and died three weeks later.

According to infectious diseases expert John McBride, AIDS is now the primary cause of death for those admitted to Port Moresby General Hospital. McBride, of James Cook University in Australia, warned that more than 1.5 million people - or one third of the country's current population - could be infected by AIDS by 2015.

Peter Piot, the head of the UN AIDS agency, UNAIDS, said at an international conference in Japan last year that AIDS had moved into the general population in Papua New Guinea.

"It's the one that I would see that could have an African-type epidemic," Piot said of Papua New Guinea, a country with a population of 4.5 million.

"That's the one country, I would say I think is really getting out of hand."

- Indo-Asian News Service

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