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October 22, 2012
In Myanmar, only sickest HIV patients get drugs

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Antiretroviral therapy, in the past considered a miracle only available to HIV patients in the West, is no longer scarce in many of the poorest parts of the world. Pills are cheaper and easier to access, and HIV is not the same killer that once left thousands of orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa.

But Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, remains a special case. Kept in the dark for so many decades by its reclusive ruling junta, this country of 60 million did not reap the same international aid as other needy nations. Heavy economic sanctions levied by countries such as the United States, along with virtually nonexistent government health funding, left an empty hole for medicine and services. Today, Myanmar ranks among the world's hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect.

(16 images)




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A mourner, grieves for Kyaw Naing Aung during his funeral on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 4, 2012. Myanmar ranks among the world's hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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A man looks at female sex workers by the side of a road while a car drives by in Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 2, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV patient rubs his face near a poster showing a sculpture of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Sept. 1, 2012 at an HIV/AIDS center founded by a member of Myanmar's opposition party National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, on the outskirts of Yangon. Following a half century of military rule, care for HIV/AIDS patients in Myanmar lags behind other countries. Half of the estimated 240,000 people living with the disease are going without treatment and 18,000 are dying from it every year. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV-infected patient scoops water over her head to cool down on a hot summer day at an HIV/AIDS hospice on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Aug. 27, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV patient holds pills for his stomach ache and diarrhea at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 2, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV patient who is also infected with tuberculosis rests on a bed near his pills at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 1, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV-infected patient, front, brushes his teeth while an HIV-infected mother gives her baby a bath and another patient, back, prepares rice for dinner at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Aug. 29, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_08.jpg
An HIV-infected woman, center left, gets her medicine through intravenous drips after fainting while another HIV patient is also treated in a hut shared with other HIV-infected patients at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 1, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_09.jpg
An HIV-infected woman holds a set of intravenous bag with a tube and needle that contains another HIV patient's blood on her way to dispose them at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 1, 2012. Because of a lack of trained medical caregivers, HIV patients at the hospice help each other with intravenous injections. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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An HIV-infected mother adjusts the blanket for her seven-day-old newborn baby under a mosquito net at an HIV/AIDS hospice on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Aug. 28, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
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HIV-infected mother Maw, 36, center, sways a hammock for her 5-month-old daughter Ei Ei Phyu, also infected with HIV, who is sucking a milk bottle, inside a hut shared with other HIV-infected patients at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Aug. 29, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_12.jpg
Reflected in a window, a six-year-old girl Myat Noe Thu, with Burmese local sunscreen "Thanakha" applied on her face, stands at a courtyard alone while her HIV-infected parents and younger sister, unseen in the photo, rest in a hut at an HIV/AIDS center on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar. Myat is not infected with HIV. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_13.jpg
Workers performing a free funeral service move the body of Kyaw Naing Aung, 29, who died a day earlier from AIDS, inside a morgue of a hospital for HIV/AIDS patients in Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 4, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_14.jpg
White chrysanthemum flowers are arranged on the body of HIV victim Kyaw Naing Aung on Sept. 4, 2012 during his funeral on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar. Aung died a day earlier at the age of 29. Myanmar ranks among the world's hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_15.jpg
Relatives and friends, seen through a net shield covering the body of Kyaw Naing Aung, 29, who died a day earlier from AIDS, offer prayers during a funeral on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Sept. 4, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan
myanmar_aids_16.jpg
Relatives and workers performing a free funeral service move a coffin containing the body of Kyaw Naing Aung, 29, on Sept. 4, 2012 outside a morgue of a hospital for HIV/AIDS patients in Yangon, Myanmar. Aung died a day earlier from AIDS. AP / Alexander F. Yuan

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