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AIDS Epidemic Spreads in Burma - 2002-10-30


Burma’s democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi knows that AIDS can cripple Burma.

She said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Burma "...is a matter of concern for the whole country. National League For Democracy (NLD) does promote awareness on HIV/AIDS to both young and old. We need to be open about this issue. We have to be compassionate towards HIV/AIDS patients. We cannot discriminate against them. We must be open and educate people to make them understand how to prevent the disease from spreading."

Aung San Suu Kyi is not the only one who believes that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Burma is of grave concern. The Washington-based USAID agency reports “a prevalence of 2.8% among 15-24 years old pregnant women are infected with HIV/AIDS."

Among Burmese sex workers the rate of HIV/AIDS is 30%-50% and even higher among needle-sharing drug addicts, a group whose infection rate is 74%--the highest in the world.

The United Nations' AIDS agency, UNAIDS, recently noted that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is on the rise in Asia--in particular, in India, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma. The Rangoon-based UN agency announced that Burma’s National AIDS Program joint-action plan needs $34 million this fiscal year to implement its activities.

Earlier this year, the US government promised to provide $10 million in humanitarian assistance to help eradicate HIV/AIDS. Britain recently allocated US $15 million to help combat HIV-AIDS in Burma.

Burma Focus invited several guests for input and news about providing assistance to fight HIV/AIDS in Burma. Dr. Daw Khin Saw Win (School of Nursing, Alberta, Canada) highlight the relationship between HIV/AIDS and human rights in Burma.

Listen to Dr. Daw Khin Saw Win and other experts discuss HIV/AIDS in Burma on VOA's Burma Focus program.

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