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HIV prevention and care

People living with HIV don’t always have the rights and healthcare they deserve. 

Protecting the sexual and reproductive health of communities in Papua New Guinea

Save the Children has spent the last 15 years working with at-risk communities in Papua New Guinea. We’ve been working with female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender people to provide sexual and reproductive health information, increase condom accessibility and use, and connect individuals to vital health services.

Why providing sexual health awareness in PNG is important

Awareness of sexual health helps protect the health, wellbeing and environment of everyone – from sex workers to the children and families connected with these communities, as well as the broader population. 

Without the power and information they need to stay safe, HIV not only spreads, but those living with HIV or at-risk of contracting HIV are denied their right to healthcare and the freedom to choose how they live their life. This leads to isolation, discrimination and more young people exposed to unsafe sex.

Save the Children’s Poro Sapot program

For the last 15 years, our Poro Sapot program has been working to reduce the prevalence rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease in Papua New Guinea through counselling, testing, treatment, care and support.

We helped achieve greater protection of sexual health, human rights and wellbeing for members of some of the most marginalised communities in the country.

We also trained Peer Outreach Volunteers to distribute condoms, demonstrate how to use them, provide health education, refer people to health workers and monitor the use of HIV medication. We engaged police, service providers, gatekeepers, community groups and other key stakeholders to support the promotion and protection of sexual health, rights and wellbeing among high-risk populations.

How we know we made a difference

In 2016 alone, the Poro Sapot Project reached almost 20,000 people with one-on-one support. More than 6,000 people accessed services to protect them against HIV and other diseases, and almost 800,000 condoms were distributed.

In 2017, the Poro Sapot program closed, leaving behind a strong community who have the knowledge they need to continue this work. It remains one of our most successful programs because it has given individuals within these communities the power to create a shift in the broader perception of their right to the lifestyle they choose.

It has allowed them to feel like part of a team when before they felt alone. It has given them the knowledge and skills to help others when before they didn’t feel they could. It has enabled them to look forward to watching their family grow when before they feared they never would.

The project has given this sector of the community the strength to imagine a future Papua New Guinea where they are safe, protected and treated with the respect and care to which they are entitled.

Who made our program possible

This program was funded by the Australian Government. Through the government’s overseas aid program, Australians provided children and young people in Papua New Guinea and around the world with the chance to achieve a brighter future. Find out more about how Australian Aid is changing lives here.

Save the Children also partnered with the Papua New Guinea National Department of Health.

Banner image: Robert McKechnie/Save the Children

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