Burmese HIV Patients Driven Out of Rangoon

HIV/ AIDS patients in Myanmar (formerly Burma) who are being treated in Rangoon, particularly in the Rangoon Division North Okkalapa Towship, have alleged that the Health Department has pressured them to go back to their respective hometowns.

"Some have been given discharge certificated forms the hospital, but they could not go back to their hometowns as they are still being administered injection as outpatients," a patient, who do not wish to be identified, told reporter Ko Wild. "Some are waiting for ARV drugs, and it is only available in Rangoon. But they don’t accept this, driving us out from Rangoon even though we stay in rented rooms at our own expense."

The patient claimed that they are being driven out as instructed from "higher authorities." Meanwhile, patients from rural areas insist on staying in Rangoon because of the difficulty in procuring ARV and TB drugs in their hometowns.

Some of the patients who were interviewed believed that they are targeted by the country’s ruling junta as they are receiving support and assistance from the National League for Democracy Party, a pro-democratic opposition headed by jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

These HIV patients narrated that the country’s Health Department officials, accompanied by police of the Special Branch, came to North Okkalapa Ahthawka Rama Shwehintha Yele Monastery on January 19 where they were staying while being treated. They claimed that they were forced to transfer to Waybargy Hospital, which is opposite the monastery.

International volunteer medical group Medicines Sans Frontier released a report saying that 25,000 Burmese patients with HIV/ AIDS died in 2007 alone due to negligence of the country’s junta and the international community, with 75,000 more patients who badly need ARV drugs.

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