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State of Origin link to high-risk sex in PNG: BAHA Print E-mail

22 JULY 2009 PORT MORESBY (Pacnews) ---- Sex is part of the entertainment at State of Origin parties in Papua New Guinea (PNG) , the influential Business Coalition Against HIV/AIDS (BAHA) said, reports The National
In its July newsletter, BAHA said partying and other social gatherings based around the annual State of Origin (SoO) rugby league series were creating "high-risk" settings for the spread of HIV.
It said this after conducting a one-off infoline survey last month on the eve of the crucial second SoO match between Queensland and New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, which was broadcast live on television throughout PNG.
The BAHA survey found that unprotected sex, sex for money, violence or threats of violence and absenteeism from work and school were high, notably during the second SoO encounter.
It said that even though its one-off infoline survey was limited, it helped it to formulate a broad framework of policies to impose on owners of venues or organisers of social gatherings which promote the televised coverage of the games from next year.
"SoO parties provide opportunities to participate in sex for money," BAHA said.
BAHA, which groups together PNG firms and organisations in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in the workplace, said that last month, it decided to conduct a "very limited" survey on the influence of SoO celebrations of the second game and the opportunity for the spread of HIV.
Thirty-one callers were asked about the general behaviour at SoO parties, which placed people at higher risk of HIV infection.
"Drunkenness, easy pick-ups for casual sex, sex for money, gambling, violence, alcohol-fuelled late night partying characterised the scenes described by all infoline callers," BAHA said.
It said the callers also mentioned drunken children, husbands and wives, fear of drunken crowds, drinking with friends, missing school and work the next day due to drunkenness and stealing to buy alcohol to drink during the SoO matches.
BAHA said some of the responses to what happened on the second SoO game night were:
"Men feel horny and want us to have sex when the game is over."
"My husband goes and gets drunk and comes home violent."
"I know that I will be lucky because men have money to spend."
"I run away when drunken boys say they want to have sex."
"I book a room to have sex, then go home."
BAHA recommended, among other things, that:
*Businesses or organisations that organise informal SoO functions that involve alcohol, should plan for and manage the HIV associated risks;
*All big screen or piksa haus staff should receive basic HIV education prior to next year’s SoO series;
*These venues be equipped with HIV-related information stalls; and

*Television networks broadcasting the SoO series share HIV education and information programmes during the games…..PNS (ENDS)