HIV/AIDS patients sent home without treatment

Feb 2, 2009 (DVB), Thirty HIV/AIDS patients from across Burma who had come to Rangoon to wait for medicine have been ordered to return home by local authorities without receiving treatment, members of the group said.

Five health workers visited the patients at a monastery near Webagi hospital where they had been taking refuge and asked them detailed questions on their background and condition.

During the visit, a police car was parked outside the monastery, patients said.

The following day, 20 of the patients were taken to the hospital but ten days later they were ordered to return home immediately and were still not told when they would receive their medicine.

The hospital refused to give a reason why the patients had been sent home.

Five children and their parents and eight adults were waiting for anti-retroviral treatment, and some of the patients need weekly hospital treatment.

Two of the families who were staying at the monastery now have nowhere to go as their homes were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis.

The monastery has been a lifeline for HIV/AIDS patients, who are forced to come to Rangoon twice a month at their own expense for ARV treatment because the government does not issue the medicines outside the former capital.

The monastery is now facing pressure from the authorities not to accept any HIV/AIDS patients, forcing some of them to go into hiding in Rangoon.

"The government is not helping the patients and is harassing those who are helping them , it is like helping the disease to spread," said a volunteer who did not want to be named.

In November 2007, authorities also sealed off Maggin monastery, which used to help HIV/AIDS patients, in connection with the monk-led uprisings in September of that year.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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