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Myanmar appeals for more assistance in combating HIV/AIDS

(Xinhua)

11:18, December 07, 2011

YANGON, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar appealed on Tuesday to the international community to increase assistance in combating HIV/ AIDS as AIDS response in the country has entered a critical stage.

The appeal was made by participants attending a media round- table discussion here on reaching zero AIDS.

The Round-table Discussion on Reaching Zero AIDS related Stigma and Discrimination in Myanmar, jointly organized by the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS based in Myanmar, was attended by celebrities, officials from the ministry, representatives from local community and Myanmar positive groups, civil society and UN agencies.

"The AIDS response in Myanmar has entered a critical stage. While good achievements on prevention treatment and care has been made so far, Myanmar can achieve universal access if the entire society and all stakeholders are fully mobilized in the years to come or lose the current achievements and see the epidemic grow," the organizer warned.

Dr. Saw Lwin, deputy director general (Disease Control) of the Ministry of Health, told Xinhua that Myanmar is implementing a national strategic plan on HIV/AIDS (2011-2015) which highlights the creative use of diverse types of mass media to reduce stigma and discrimination and to reduce the risk of HIV transmission among key affected population and youth.

Dr. Sun Gang, Country Coordinator of UNAIDS, expressed the belief that with intelligence and innovative approaches, the media will lead the anti-AIDS campaign to meet the best interest of the people, saying that it will contribute to achieving the three zeros in Myanmar -- zero new HIV infection; zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.

He also underlined that Myanmar has made a lot of achievement in terms of HIV and AIDS programs and the media has played an important role.

According to presentation made by Dr. Khin Ohnmar San, National AIDS Program Manager of the Myanmar Ministry of Health, out of a financial need of 49.7 million U.S. dollars for fighting HIV/AIDS, there are only 39 million dollars available.

The manager blamed that there are only 40 percent of HIV patients received treatment with anti-retroviral (ARV) drug, saying that more such drugs are still needed.

A latest statistics show that 240,000 people in Myanmar are living with HIV in 2010, in which there were 9,000 new HIV infections and nearly 20,000 AIDS related deaths.

Under a joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the UNAIDS is extending supply of ARV drug for Myanmar HIV victims up to 2015.

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