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UNICEF says HIV/AIDS education in Myanmar can save thousands of lives

YANGON, 10 June 2005 – Following her recent visit to Myanmar, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Anupama Rao Singh, said that actively educating Myanmar’s children about HIV/AIDS will save thousands of lives. 

Myanmar has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in Southeast Asia, with an adult prevalence rate of approximately 1.2 percent.

Every year in Myanmar, at least 10,000 HIV-positive women become pregnant, giving birth to at least 3,000 to 4,000 children who are infected with HIV.

“One of the most important things parents, teachers and leaders can do is to speak honestly and directly with young people about the threat of HIV/AIDS,” said Ms. Singh. “Silence and ignorance are amongst our greatest adversaries in the fight against this disease.”

In Myanmar, UNICEF has supported the introduction of HIV/AIDS prevention and “healthy living” curriculum in primary and secondary schools nationwide, helping millions of children gain knowledge and develop skills that can help them stay healthy.

UNICEF spends an average of US$ 2 million each year in Myanmar in support of HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs.

Recently UNICEF, in cooperation with UNFPA and the National AIDS Program in Myanmar, launched a new hospital-based program to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. 

Myanmar’s ten largest hospitals will now offer a package of services to help prevent mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission, including more complex and potent antiretroviral regimens.  In the coming months and years, additional State and Division hospitals throughout the country will begin providing transmission prevention services.

UNICEF already provides the antiretroviral drug Nevirapine for HIV-positive mothers and their newborns, which can reduce the risk of transmission by half. 

In 40 different townships throughout Myanmar UNICEF also supports programs that provide confidential counseling and testing services, antiretroviral prophylaxis, safe delivery training and supplies, and counseling for HIV-positive mothers on infant feeding and other care practices.

In 17 of these townships, UNICEF works with INGOs and the Myanmar Nurses Association to support comprehensive home-based care for infected children, as well as children with infected parents and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.  Assistance can include family counseling and care training, psychosocial support, and support for children to attend school.

For further information, please contact: 

Jason M. Rush, UNICEF Myanmar, Office:   (95 1) 212 086




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