News / Asia

Burmese AIDS Patients Face Treatment Obstacles

Attempting to Bridge Burma’s HIV Treatment Gapi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
September 10, 2012 5:05 PM
Burma's AIDS epidemic mostly affects marginalized groups, such as the gay community. In a country where homosexuality remains illegal, finding and treating gay patients is a challenge for the few health workers devoted to their treatment. VOA News reports that an annual religious event called a Nat festival, however, is one time when the gay community can network - and talk to health workers about treatment.
VOA News
TAUNGBYONE, Burma — Burma's AIDS epidemic mostly affects marginalized groups, such as the gay community. In a country where homosexuality remains illegal, finding and treating gay patients is a challenge for the few health workers devoted to their treatment. An annual religious event called a Nat festival, however, is one time when the gay community can network - and talk to health workers about treatment.
 
Burma's largest supernatural spirit festival [Nat festival] takes place annually in a small town outside of Mandalay called Taungbyone, attracting animists, including many members of the gay community, from all over the country for a week of celebrations and offerings.
 
About one percent of Burma's population is HIV positive. Among high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men, health workers estimate as many as 11 percent have HIV. “Casper” is one health worker trying to curb infections.
 
"I want to give you a little test," said Casper, as he takes out a banana. "This is what we’ll use for the test."
 
Free testing helps awareness

Casper does counseling at a government clinic in Mandalay, and at the festival, where they offer free testing. He himself has AIDS, and he tells up to 200 people each year they are HIV positive.
 
“When I first see them, I ask them if they’re ready to hear the results of the test. If they’re ready, then I tell them," said Casper. "When I tell them, I observe their faces carefully, seeing whether there are any negative expressions on their faces. If I see a fallen face, then I disclose my own personal experiences.”
 
Most spirit mediums at the festival, known as nat kadaws, are gay, like Ko Chit Tae, who hails from Rangoon.
 
"HIV affects the gay community. It's highly likely among homosexuals having frequent unprotected sexual intercourse with each other," he  said.

Moving toward improved treatment

While Burma's National AIDS Plan has helped stem new infections, it offers almost no help for marginalized groups already living with HIV. Dr. Kyaw Soe, the ministry of health's HIV officer for Mandalay Division, nevertheless recognizes the risks from not treating these groups.
 
"There may be laws against homosexuality, but if we look at it from a public health point of view, we have to help these people," Kyaw Soe.
 
The international medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders provides 70 percent of the lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy treatment in all of Burma, also known as Myanmar. Duncan Bell is the group's Burma country director.
 
“I think the tragedy in Myanmar currently is there is the possibility to save people's lives and it's not being fully taken by the international community. There is a treatment gap of 80,000 people, approximately, in need of lifesaving treatment," said Bell.
 
Because funding is low, no new patients in Burma will be able to receive the lifesaving drugs known as anti-retrovirals until 2014. In the meantime, they have Casper to console them.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid