Some AIDS victims are being buried alive in Papua New Guinea by relatives who cannot look after them and fear becoming infected themselves, a health worker said Monday.
Margaret Marabe, who spent five months carrying out an AIDS awareness campaign in the remote Southern Highlands of the South Pacific nation, said she had seen five people buried while still breathing.
One was calling out “Mama, Mama” as the soil was shoveled over his head, said Marabe, who works for a volunteer organisation called Igat Hope, Pidgin English for I’ve Got Hope.
Villagers had told her it was common for people to bury AIDS victims alive.
Women accused of being witches have been tortured and murdered by mobs holding them responsible for the apparently inexplicable deaths of young people stricken by the epidemic, officials and researchers say.
A recent United Nations report said PNG was facing an AIDS catastrophe, accounting for 90 percent of HIV infections in the Oceania region.