UNION minister for Health Dr Thet Khaing Win attended the 2021 World AIDS Day ceremony yesterday morning in Nay Pyi Taw.
At the ceremony, the Union minister said the World AIDS Day has been celebrated in the first week of December annually across the world since 1988 and it marks 34th times
this year. In Myanmar, it aims to remember those who have died of HIV/AIDS, and eradicate the disease from a public health problem by working with the whole community, including public health workers, UN agencies, civil society groups and people living with HIV, he said.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics”, aiming to reaccelerate the prevention and treatment of HIV in the world, in addition to the COVID-19 prevention and response efforts.
There are about 241,662 people living with HIV in Myanmar, with an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 0.57%, according to the AIDS Epidemic Model (AEM), the Union minister said. Activities to eradicate the HIV/AIDS are being implemented in accordance with the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS (2021-2025), with an effort to make the essential packages for health services – HIV for all 330 townships accessible to those who are in need, he added.
In 2021, 362 ART clinics were opened in 273 townships to provide treatment for HIV/AIDS patients, making the ART medical services more accessible. In addition, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) has been extended to 330 townships nationwide this year. Preventive care and treatment have been stepped up since 2021 with increased funding from the government, he said. The government has been increasing the allocation of funds from the 2016-2017 financial year to make sure that there is no shortage of medicines and related medical supplies for ART medical services. In the 2020-2021 FY, up to US$ 15 million was allocated and more are planned to be allocated in the coming years, he continued. As a result, out of an estimated 240,000 people living with HIV, more than 190,000 (approximately 78% of all HIV-infected people) have been treated as of September 2021.
New HIV prevention strategies, such as Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), pre-disease vaccination is being carried out in Yangon Region as a Demonstration project for gays.
The incidence of new HIV infections in Myanmar peaked at 26,569 in 2000 and dropped to 9,081 in 2020 as a result of dedicated efforts to prevent and treat HIV, however, there are still many tasks and challenges to be taken forward, such as the continuum of care for HIV-positive patients and the zero discrimination against them, he highlighted.
The Union minister urged those who are affected with HIV or who work in the HIV prevention and treatment activities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the Ministry of Health is giving priority to those with poor immune system. He also said he believed that with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health, the people and partner organizations, a HIV-free society would emerge by 2030.
Those present at the ceremony included Deputy minister for Health, Directors General, officials from the respective ministries, partner organizations, and officials from the region/state public health departments attended through video conferencing.