The Smokescreen of Culture: AIDS and the Indigenous in Papua, Indonesia

Leslie Butt
Gerdha Numbery
Jake Morin

Throughout Asia, governments typically have reacted to the spread of AIDS by blaming the “West,” outsiders, or the sexual deviance of its modernizing citizenry. In Indonesia, after years of evasion and denial, the government seems to be moving beyond moral judgments about sexuality towards addressing the pragmatics of dealing with rising infection rates. In Indonesia’s easternmost province, now known as Papua (also known as Irian Jaya, or West Papua), all levels of government have been galvanized as rates of HIV infection skyrocketed in the past few years. There are presently 20.4 cases per 100,000 people in Papua, a dramatic contrast to the rest of Indonesia, which has only 0.42 cases per 100,000 people1. Approximately 40% of the HIV and AIDS cases in Indonesia are located in the province of Papua, even though that province has less than 1% of the country’s population. If HIV is a problem elsewhere in Indonesia, in Papua it is rapidly becoming an epidemic.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 21, 2021
Published in
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