New HIV Infections Have Fallen in Burma: UN Report

A woman with HIV receives treatment at a HIV/AIDS hospice in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

A woman with HIV receives treatment at a HIV/AIDS hospice in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

The number of people contracting HIV in Burma decreased between 2000 and 2013, according to a new UN report, which also said there are still 189,000 people in the country living with the virus.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) “Gap report”—which was published Wednesday to highlight the global inequity of gains made in fighting the disease—noted a worldwide drop in new HIV infections of 38 percent between 2001 and last year. Despite that progress, 2.1 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2013 in all countries, it said.

In Burma, the report said, “New infections declined in this reporting period, but over 7,000 new infections are estimated to have occurred in 2013, confirming the continuing need for effective prevention efforts.”

The UN report—which used figures collected by Burma’s National AIDS Program, part of the Ministry of Health—did not give figures for the number of new infections in any other years.

Burma is one of six countries—also including India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam—that together account for more than 90 percent of the people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.

Some 189,000 people in Burma are living with the virus, and an estimated 15,000 people died of AIDS-related illness in 2013, according to the report.

According to a government survey of HIV-infected people in Rangoon and Mandalay alone—cited in the UN report—52 percent of them were men who have sex with men, 25 percent were intravenous drug users and 23 percent were female sex workers.

However, Burmese health experts said the real number of people with HIV/AIDS in the country could be higher than the figures suggest.

“The number of HIV-infected persons or new infections could be more than the UN figures due to the fact that many are still reluctant to seek official treatment,” said Dr. Tin Myo Win, who runs the Karuna La Yeik shelter for people living with HIV in Rangoon.

His organization, which gets no government funding, provides shelter to about 200 people receiving the anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

“Since 2006, we have only been able to provide ART medication for about 200 people—women, men and children—with support from nongovernmental organizations,” said Dr. Tin Myo Win.

“We cannot tell how many remain outside of the survey list in the whole nation because, for instance, those who can pay for ART don’t seek support.”

The figures also do not include children with HIV, who most often are passed the virus from their mother. Many Burmese people living near or across the country’s borders are also likely left out of the statistics.

2 Responses to New HIV Infections Have Fallen in Burma: UN Report

  1. 190.000 people have the virus, 15.000 died of it in 2013, “only” 7.000 people were newly infected.
    These 197.000 people are “DEAD MEN AND WOMEN WALKING”. There is no cure.

    The numbers are less than in previous years, but is it good news? The numbers may be higher, because many people do not report that they have the virus.

    How many people were killed in battle n 2013? how many people were internally displaced for the first time? how many are displaced on a country wide scale?

    I have understood, that they are more people (including people of Barmar by race) than the people hit by AIDS. So what is a larger drain on national prosperity?

    How many infants below 5 years died by preventable diseases? How many are undernourished or stunted by malnutrition? How many mothers died in child bed?

    How many dollar millionaires does the country have (names just whispered)?
    And how many people below the poverty line?

    – My heart hurts when I consider the downward journey of the country under military rule.
    But religious unrest is not he answer. That is only punishing a scape goat, while the real culprits go scot free.

  2. Dear Irrawaddy, can you please hide the face of the woman in the pic? Please!!!!
    Will you show or post if the patient is your relatives or friends?
    Don’t you even know the privacy and confidentiality?
    Shame on you Irrawaddy!!

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