Continue to fight against HIV/AIDS amidst COVID-19

Coronavirus cases in Myanmar reached over 74,800, with more than 1,670 deaths as of yesterday.
With enforcement of stricter stay-at-home measures in our country, especially in Yangon Region which is experiencing surge in positive cases, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to limit transmission of the virus, new challenges for primary care practitioners who mange patients with chronic diseases and infectious emerged.
AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB), three of the deadliest infectious diseases, together kill 2.4 million people every year, with TB alone responsible for 1.5 million deaths. And deaths from these diseases could almost double over the next year, according to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a consortium of donors that funds treatments. The reason: coronavirus. It’s a horrifying prospect, and calls for an urgent action plan.
Hence, we must do everything possible to lessen its potential destructiveness. Part of that is also making sure we do not forget about the fact that patients HIV/AIDS require life-saving medicines.
Increased antiretroviral treatment coverage has seen the number of people dying of AIDS-related illnesses fall by a third since 2010, reflecting our success in fighting the disease.
Thankfully, with popular support and political will, prevention programmes have achieved a 36 per cent decline in new infections and a 52 per cent decline in HIV/AIDS related deaths when compared with those in 2020.
Understanding that cases of infectious disease likes HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria would rise if we do not manage the live-saving services well, the Ministry of Health and Sports has implemented a scheme under which over 70 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients have been provided with ART for six months while over 90 per cent of patients who are taking methadone are getting the medicine at their door.
We could not achieve this important success in our fight against HIV, without support from the Global Fund which provided us with over US$876 million to be used for fighting HIV/AIDS from 2011 to 2020, and technical assistance from UNAIDS.
We would like to express thanks to the Global Fund for its agreement for providing over US$128 million again to strengthen our fight against HIV/AIDS from 2021 to 2023.
Apart from all measures taken to protect people from coronavirus and to treat those who have become sick, we must also enforce the current response to COVID-19 to make sure that people with underlying diseases do not become fatalities for lack of proper medicines and treatment for their existing chronic conditions.

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