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December 3, 2008

Thousands of HIV-Positive Burmese Go Without Treatment

Thousands of people in Myanmar are dying of AIDS-related complications each year because its government—run by a military junta—is not allocating enough money to provide them with antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, The New York Times reports.

According to a report released last week by international charity Doctors Without Borders, about 240,000 people in Myanmar are living with HIV, with roughly 76,000 requiring treatment. However, only 15,000 of those in need of medication have access to it. Of that group, Doctors Without Borders treats 11,000.

“It is unacceptable that a single [nongovernmental organization] is treating the vast majority of HIV patients in a crisis of this magnitude,” said the charity’s operations manager for Myanmar, Joe Belliveau.

The Times reports that many Burmese cannot afford $30 per month for the cheapest ARV medication available, and Myanmar’s government spends only 70 cents per citizen for health care each year. The article notes that the government has a long history of ignoring the needs of dying citizens, citing its refusal to allow foreign aid workers to assist Burmese left homeless after a cyclone ravaged the Irrawaddy Delta in May.

Search: Burmese, Myanmar, Doctors Without Borders, junta, antiretrovirals

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