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MSF Says Additional Resources Needed To Improve ART Access In Burma

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the largest provider of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are calling for the gap between the need for and access to ART in the country to be closed, the Guardian reports. Approximately 240,000 people live with HIV in Burma, and doctors say half are in need of “urgent” ART, but national data estimates less than 30,000 were receiving ART in 2010, the newspaper writes, adding, “In a country where nearly 33 percent of people live below the poverty line, thousands of Burmese are unlikely ever to be able to afford ART, which, according to [MSF], cost $30 a month.”

“MSF had hoped the next round of grant-making by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria … would bring Burma up to speed with the rest of the world,” but “[t]hat hope … was dealt a blow last November when the Global Fund announced the cancellation of the next grant-making round due to lack of funds,” the Guardian writes, noting that the fund’s “board is due to meet on Thursday.” According to the newspaper, the ART shortfall has forced doctors to ration the drugs, which has led to death rates of up to 25 percent among people who arrive seriously ill at clinics, local aid groups said. In addition, a lack of proper treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is leading to the development of multidrug-resistant strains in Burma, the Guardian notes (Bodenham, 5/9). The newspaper also features a video profiling several HIV patients and health care providers (Symes/Bodenham, 5/9).