World AIDS Day Event
Chargé d’Affaires Gwen Cardno
Remarks as Prepared
December 1, 2020
Myanmar National AIDS Program
Your Excellency, Union Minister of Health and Sports, Sayaji Dr. Myint Htwe, colleagues,
This year, we mark World AIDS Day in the context of a different global pandemic, one which has brought the health and wellbeing of our families and communities to the forefront of daily life.
Just as the United States works with Myanmar to respond to COVID-19 today, we have long worked together to respond to HIV/AIDS.
On this World AIDS Day, on behalf of the American people, I honor the people of Myanmar who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS and those who are working to end the epidemic.
I also want to congratulate Myanmar on the progress that has been made to date.
Since 2010, Myanmar has reduced new HIV infections by 36% — exceeding the global average — and has reduced AIDS-related deaths by 30%.
Three out of four HIV-positive people now receive antiretroviral treatment, enabling them to lead healthy, productive lives.
I am proud that the United States is a committed partner with Myanmar in these achievements.
In Myanmar, the U.S. government has invested more than $70 million to support the country’s HIV/AIDS response since 2013.
This is in addition to the U.S. government’s contributions to the Global Fund,
as the largest single donor since its inception.
These resources support HIV testing and care, strengthen surveillance, and improve diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
I appreciate that, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic, Myanmar and the United States continue to work together not only to ensure treatment for people living with HIV, but also to introduce innovative services.
These include self-testing to reach people who either cannot or do not want to visit a clinic and pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
However, I understand that though these innovations and services are becoming available for the first time in Myanmar, people may not access these services because they face stigma and discrimination and fear of arrest.
I encourage leaders and communities in Myanmar to work together on ways to reduce stigma and increase access to services.
These could include changes in current laws that criminalize behaviors that put some people at greater risk of being infected with HIV, and changes in existing policies that delay the start of treatment.
A healthy population in Myanmar is vital for the people’s aspirations of inclusive democracy, peace, and prosperity.
On behalf of the American people, we look forward to a World AIDS Day when we can celebrate the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Myanmar, and throughout the world.
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