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In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Janet Gare who is the first woman from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) to obtain a PhD for her research into HIV drug resistance in the PNG Highlands. Sarah and Janet speak about the context of HIV in PNG from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September.

  • Download the interview transcript [PDF]

More about Dr Gare’s work in PNG

Dr Gare’s four years studying at Burnet Institute on a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) scholarship were split between fieldwork in PNG and time in the laboratory in Melbourne. But her aim was always to return to her hometown of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province. Upon returning from studies in October 2015, Dr Gare was appointed as the Laboratory Co-ordinator of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit of the PNGIMR.

It’s PNG’s principal laboratory for research into HIV and other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Recently, the laboratory has embarked several integrated studies aimed at understanding the epidemiology of human papilloma virus in PNG and its relationship to cervical cancer, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in women in PNG.

“The problem of HIV and STIs is not just limited to the Eastern Highlands Province,” Dr Gare said. “In Papua New Guinea, there’s a high rate of infections among young people. In fact, PNG has the highest rate of STIs including HIV in the South Pacific, and is among the top five in the South East Asian region, so we have an important role to play to address a serious problem.”

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Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Janet Gare is the first woman from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) to obtain a PhD for her research into HIV drug resistance in the PNG Highlands. She is a highly-skilled and passionate infectious disease research scientist, well-equipped with necessary skills to conduct bio-behavioral field surveys, clinical research, design laboratory experiments and monitor disease outbreaks in human population in low- and middle-income countries.

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans the from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.

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