Thousands at risk from lack of HIV/AIDS treatment

Nov 26, 2008 (DVB), International humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres said yesterday that thousands of people are dying unnecessarily due to the lack of access to HIV/AIDS treatment in Burma.

MSF called on the Burmese government and international organisations to urgently step up provision of lifesaving antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV/AIDS in the country.

In a statement released yesterday, MSF said less than 20 percent of the estimated 240,000 people with HIV/AIDS in Burma had access to antiretroviral treatment.

"Last year, around 25,000 people died of AIDS related illnesses," said MSF operations manager Joe Belliveau in the statement.

"A similar number of people could suffer the same fate in 2008 unless there is a significant increase in accessible antiretroviral treatment."

While MSF is providing ART to more than 11,000 people, the organisation said it is unable to meet the needs of current HIV patients alone and has recently had to reduce the number of new patients it can take on.

The Burmese government invests little in public healthcare, with only US$ 200,000 allocated to HIV/AIDS this year.

Large international donors are failing to fill the gap in HIV/AIDS treatment provision due to concerns that aid will be misused or exploited by the military regime.

Reporting by Siân Thomas

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