people in Myanmar are HIV-positive
of new HIV infections are affecting the communities most at risk
of those infected have no access to antiretrovirals
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Aids - an epidemic affecting the most vulnerable
Myanmar has one of the largest AIDS epidemics in Southeast Asia. Of the 220,000 people living with HIV, around 126,500 who are in urgent need of antiretrovirals don’t always have access to treatment. Geographical isolation, the limited capacity of public institutions, punitive legislation and discrimination are among the obstacles encountered in tackling AIDS and HIV in Myanmar.
Harm reduction in Myanmar
HIV particularly affects people who inject drugs – 28.5% of them are infected nationwide. In the rural Kachin State in northern Myanmar, access to HIV prevention and treatment services is all the more difficult since people who use drugs face multiple discrimination. They are especially discriminated against by religious anti-drugs communities known as "Pat Jasan".
Although the prevalence of HIV is less than 1% in the general population, 70% of new infections occur in the groups which are most at risk: sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.
Furthermore, 14.6% of sex workers and 11.6% of men who have sex with men are affected by the epidemic. Also subject to significant discrimination, these people are rarely reached by awareness-raising, screening and treatment programmes.
Our activities in Mayanmar
Médecins du Monde supports the Ministry of Health and Sports with a comprehensive package of harm reduction services. Our programmes provide prevention, treatment and support services for key groups, such as sex workers and men who have sex with men in Yangon and people who inject drugs in Kachin.
SUpporting sex workers in Yangon
Médecins du Monde France has been working with the sex worker community and men who have sex with men in Yangon, in southern Myanmar, since 2000.
Through a network of community-based peer educators, Médecins du Monde’s HIV/AIDS prevention activities have provided support to thousands of individuals potentially at risk of infection. We have also set up a static clinic which sees over one thousand people every year. Apart from antiretroviral treatment, people who come to the clinic can obtain advice and be tested for other diseases such as tuberculosis or sexually transmitted infections.
Médecins du Monde also works together with other organisations and peer support groups. Advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns are organised to improve the everyday lives of the key groups affected and with the aim of securing access for them to services tackling HIV/AIDS and enabling them to exercise their rights.
In Kachin State, in the north of the country, Médecins du Monde works with people who use drugs and who are particularly affected by infectious diseases. In some of the places where we work over half of people who inject drugs are HIV-positive and, of these, 70% are also infected with hepatitis C.
Médecins du Monde promotes a harm reduction approach and works in three townships and through outreach activities, supported by a network of community workers. This community-based model means a wide range of services can be offered to people who inject drugs, including HIV testing, counselling and treatment; primary healthcare; hepatitis B vaccination and screening for hepatitis C; screening for and treatment of STIs and tuberculosis; and referral to healthcare and support services. Médecins du Monde also offers access to substitution therapy using methadone. Prevention supplies are distributed (condoms, sterile syringes, water and alcohol swabs) and health education workshops and antiretroviral treatment are offered to get people who use drugs involved in prevention activities.
In addition, Médecins du Monde is strengthening its work in Myanmar by offering training activities to local authorities, civil society organisations and support groups with the aim of achieving greater acceptance of harm reduction programmes in communities in Myanmar.
Médecins du Monde is actively involved in advocacy work. We took part in the process of legislative reform on drugs and have presented our harm reduction programme in Myanmar at three international conferences.
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