IAS calls for the non politicization of an HIV clinic in Burma threatened with closure

IAS calls for the non politicization of an HIV clinic in Burma threatened with closure

     November 23, 2010 – Geneva, Switzerland – The International AIDS Society (IAS) calls on the Burmese Government to reverse a ruling made on November 18 to shut down a charitable HIV/AIDS clinic in Rangoon. The government demand came just one day after Aung San Suu Kyi, the recently released Nobel Peace Prize laureate visited the centre to show her support.
      The clinic known as the HIV/AIDS Patients Care Center has been given up to November 25 to close. The Burmese Government has repealed the clinic’s permit as well as refusing to renew residence permits to the 80 patients currently being cared for, stating that the patients can get care from government funded facilities instead.
      The IAS condemns this inflexible approach. Patients should be free to choose where they seek treatment. In addition any interruption or change to care could have irreversible repercussions for the health of the patients.

      IAS President Elly Katabira called for the clinic to be able to continue free from intimidation ‘This clinic is a well known establishment that is dedicated to helping marginalised or displaced people get the HIV treatment they need for free. It should be allowed to continue with its work and I urge the Burmese government to reconsider and enter productive negotiations with all those involved’.
     He called on all HIV related organizations to join the call to repeal this closure, adding that ‘with an estimated 240,000 people infected with HIV in Burma, all efforts whether they be government or charitable initiatives should be allowed and supported. Only a combined effort will reduce the ongoing epidemic in the country’.
       The IAS Acting Executive Director, Mats Ahnlund, also underlined the importance of collaboration stating that ‘the phenomenal progress made in fighting HIV the world over has been due to governments, NGOs, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, scientists, activists, media and people living with HIV working closely together - supported by selfless, committed volunteers like those running this shelter’.
       The centre has been running since 2002 and has been in its current location in Dangon Township for the last five years.
About the IAS
        The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 19,000 members from more than 190 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS. Our members include researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic, as well as policy and programme planners. The IAS is the custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference and lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which will be held in Rome, Italy in July 2011.
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