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Burma Unable To Expand HIV, TB Treatment Programs Without More Donor Support, MSF Report Says

Approximately 85,000 HIV-positive people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are in need of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and cannot access it “due to a lack of funding, despite renewed international engagement with the government amid a wave of political reform, according to a report released Wednesday” by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/CBS News reports (2/22). “At the launch of a new report called ‘Lives in the Balance,’ MSF said that only a quarter of the estimated 120,000 people living with HIV and AIDS were receiving treatment, and that it was turning people away from its clinics,” BBC News writes. While plans were made last year among MSF and its partners to scale up treatment for HIV and tuberculosis (TB), “those proposals were shelved after the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cancelled its Round 11 grants, according to the news agency. “The money was expected to provide HIV drugs for 46,500 people in Myanmar, along with treatment for another 10,000 people sicken[ed] by drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country, [the report] said,” BBC writes (Fisher, 2/22).

The report also highlighted the importance of treatment for tuberculosis (TB) in Burma, which has TB prevalence “more than three times the global average,” according to the Irawaddy. Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) infects an estimated 9,300 people annually, but “so far just over 300 have been receiving treatment,” the news service notes. “Between 15,000 and 20,000 people living with HIV/ AIDS die every year in Burma because of lack of access to ART, says the report,” the Irawaddy writes (Yan Naing, 2/22).