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Myanmar stands on the brink of what may be one of the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemics in Asia. Among the three Asian countries hardest hit by the epidemic, only in Myanmar do national HIV infection rates continue to rise, primarily as a result of injecting drug use. In comparison, the level of resources to combat the epidemic in Myanmar has increased at a very slow pace, as international disengagement continues to critically affect the flow of overseas development assistance to address the humanitarian needs of a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS in the country.

In addition, the existing HIV/AIDS budget remains critically underfunded by the Government of Myanmar. In the face of these challenges, Myanmar, together with the UN Theme Group on AIDS, has prepared a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action that fosters the involvement of NGOs as well as the utilization of established local government structures. Full implementation of the plan requires US$51 million but only half of this amount has been mobilized so far (2003).

Burden adult prevalence (age group 15-49) is 1.1%-2.2% (2002) in urban areas and 0.04%-0.07% (2002) in rural areas. Injecting drug use, sex work, limited condom use and availability, inadequate involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in addressing the epidemic, limited laboratory and treatment capacities and risk factors associated with mobile populations remain a concern for the future development of HIV/AIDS in Myanmar.

National Strategic Framework

The national strategic framework for HIV/AIDS has been completed for 2003-2005. The framework was prepared by the UN Theme Group on AIDS in partnership with the Government of Myanmar and includes five priority areas: sexual HIV transmission; injecting drug use; awareness-raising; care, treatment and support; and fostering an enabling environment.

The implementation plan has been completed and costed. The implementation plan includes nationwide coverage and a monitoring and evaluation component. In addition, the Fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar has been established.

Myanmar's Government made commitments to a strong national response to HIV/AIDS during UNGASS and Asia Pacific regional meetings such as the November 2001 ASEAN Summit but, as yet, no specific HIV/AIDS legislation is in place. Although the Ministry of Health has committed to allocation of substantial resources to the national response, these resources do not meet the growing needs for primary prevention, care and support. To date, only a limited budget has been made available.