Bridging the Gaps: Myanmar
Bridging the Gaps: Myanmar
Bridging the Gaps is alliance of nine international organisations and networks and more than 80 local and regional organisations, working towards the end of the AIDS epidemic among key populations.
Supported by global and regional level work, Bridging the Gaps works with over 80 partner organisations in 15 countries in three regions:
• Sub-Sahara Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
• South East Asia: Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam.
• Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
In Myanmar, the programme works with, and for the health and human rights of, sex workers, including those living with HIV.
Yangon, Mandalay, Myint Kyina, Bago, Meik Htila
Bridging the Gaps partners in Myanmar work towards ending AIDS among key populations through (1) a strengthened civil society that holds government to account; (2) increased fulfilment of human rights of key populations; and (3) increased SRHR and fewer infections.
Through innovation and by building on previous work in Myanmar, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. Facilitate community development, by:
• Initiating a coordination mechanism within the sex worker movement in Myanmar;
• Developing materials for and conducting Training of Trainers on human rights and advocacy;
• Facilitating community development on human rights and advocacy;
• Building leadership skills.
2. Advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights, by:
• Conducting a healthcare service delivery mapping that includes identifying gaps and needs;
• Initiating research on the relation between violence and HIV.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services, by:
• Providing legal counselling and support;
• Training paralegals;
• Document human rights violations.
4. Foster global and in-country processes and partnerships that reinforce results, by:
• Providing access to international HIV and AIDS conferences and meetings.
In Myanmar, around 190,000 people are living with HIV, and it has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Asia. HIV prevalence in Myanmar is estimated to be 0.6% among adults aged between 15 and 49. In the country, 190,000 people are living with HIV, of which about one-third are women. While the general HIV prevalence is low, it is high in KPs including PUD, female SWs and their clients, and MSM. There are an estimated 240,000 MSM in Myanmar, corresponding to 1.4% of the total adult male population. According to national estimates, HIV prevalence among MSM is almost 20 times higher than in the general population, at 10.4%. HIV prevalence among SWs is estimated to be 8.1%, and among PUD it is estimated to be as high as 18.7%. The epidemic in these sub?populations is primarily driven through high-risk sexual contact and the use of contaminated needles and syringes. These high prevalence rates show the urgent need to invest in these KPs. While access to ART has increased significantly, still only 35% of PLHIV in Myanmar are currently receiving it. An estimated 15,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2013.
After decades of oppressive military rule, Myanmar is now governed by a civilian government.
As the new government work towards delivering its promises for peace and reconciliation, the health sector plays a critical role in opening the space for building relationships and developing joint health programmes with ethnic political parties and ethnic armed organisations. Myanmar is currently experiencing a national concentrated HIV epidemic. There are an estimated 212,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV), of which 34% are women. The epidemic is rapidly increasing amongst female sex workers (FSW), with Health Sentinel Sero-Surveillance (HSS) 2014 data reporting a HIV prevalence of 6.44% among FSW. However, the situation in Mandalay suggests a different scenario. 17% of sex workers who have engaged in sex work for a year (or less) were found to be HIV positive in Mandalay. Despite rapid progress and programmatic achievements in recent years, important gaps and challenges remain. None of the priority population programmes have been scaled up to high coverage levels. ART uptake has not yet reached national targets and loss to follow up remains.
Laws pertaining to criminalisation of sex work greatly impact on the effectiveness of HIV interventions. Even in places where these behaviours are not criminalised, cultural and religious norms exist and lead to the labelling of people engaging in these practices as ‘bad, abnormal, and a threat’ to the community.