How many people living with HIV in Myanmar began antiretroviral treatment in 2016? In 2017? Why the difference?
Health authorities aim to detect up to 20,000 new HIV patients in ’18
Myint Kay Thi
08 DEC 2017
The National AIDS Program of the Ministry of Health and Sports aims to detect up to 20,000 new HIV patients in 2018, said Dr Tun Nyunt Oo, the program’s manager.
“This year, we have been treated about 20,000 HIV patients with antiretroviral therapy (ART). We hope to find between 15,000 and 20,000 new HIV patients in the coming year,” he said.
In Myanmar, there are an estimated 220,000 people living with HIV and about 100,000 remain undetected, according to health authorities.
Last year, more than 130,000 people living with HIV received life-saving antiretroviral therapy.
“HIV testing services are being carried out in government hospitals, clinics and NGO clinics. An awareness campaign, blood testing program, and outreach are being conducted in the community, including in rural areas, with the help of midwives in order to find new patients,” Dr Tun Nyunt Oo said.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are priority social and public health issues in Myanmar.
For fiscal year 2017-2018, the government allocated US$15 million (K20.45 billion) to the National AIDS program.
The private sector and international agencies, such as Global Fund, pumped in an additional $55 million, bringing to $70 million the total funding for the country’s anti-HIV/AIDS campaign.
Last year, health authorities detected a total of 11,000 people with new HIV infections. The figure showed that about 30 people are infected with HIV every day in the country, according to Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe.
HIV prevalence is high among the vulnerable sectors of the population: 29 percent among people who inject drugs, 7pc among female sex workers, 13pc among men who have sex with men, and 23pc among male partners of sex workers.
The Kachin State, Shan State (North), Sagaing Region, Mandalay Region and Yangon Region have a high incidence of HIV infection.
Myanmar is now implementing third national strategic plan on HIV/AIDS (2016-2020) aimed at ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, in line with the global goal.
U Thawdr Tun, chairperson of Myanmar Positive Group, a non-governmental organisation, said that prevention and strong surveillance mechanisms need to be sustained in order to achieve the goal.
“The easy access to ART is one of the main causes of the decline in AIDS-related deaths. People living with HIV have more access to ART than the past,” he said.
Myanmar has successfully reduced AIDS related deaths to 8000 in 2016 from 14,000 in 2010. Likewise, the number of diagnosed HIV patients dropped to 11,000 last year from 35,000 in 2000.