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HIV medicine crisis in Burma

(Mizzima) – Burma’s festering HIV-AIDs crisis has again captured the headlines, as some 85,000 HIV-infected people are at risk of not getting adequate medicine, according to aid groups.

A Rangoon medical worker takes a blood sample from a woman as part of an HIV test at a  specialized clinic run almost entirely by those in the sex trade. The project now has programmes in 19 cities and employs 350 people. Photo : AFPDespite the country’s political reforms, health care and medicine remain a near crisis in the country, aid groups said. Doctors Without Borders, a French humanitarian group, says two-thirds of HIV patients in Burma in need of anti-retroviral therapy cannot get it. The United Nations says between 15,000 and 20,000 people living with HIV die every year in Burma because they are not treated.

Doctors Without Borders warned in a recent report that the situation could grow worse as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria unexpectedly cut funding worldwide because of a drop in funding.

In 2009, the U.N. estimated 240,000 people were infected with HIV and about 18,000 were dying from it annually in Burma, which has one of the world's worst health systems.

Peter Paul de Groote, who heads the Doctors Without Borders’ organization in Burma,  told The Associated Press his group gives antiretroviral drugs to about 23,000 people at 23 clinics nationwide, funding more than half of all HIV treatment being provided to nearly 40,000 patients.  

Doctors Without Borders is the largest supplier of anti-retroviral therapy in Burma. The government devotes a tiny fraction of its budget to health care.

“Regardless of what is happening in the country, the people that are in need of treatment, need treatment,” de Groote said told AP.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:29 )  

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