Cablegate: Exposing Risks of Hiv/Aids in Burma

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: The Ministry of Health held Burma's second
annual HIV/AIDS exposition in Rangoon, attracting 70,000
visitors, raising HIV/AIDS awareness, and administering
on-site HIV/AIDS tests to those interested. However, whether
the expo successfully reached Burma's high-risk populations
is unknown. END SUMMARY.

2. The GOB held its second annual HIV/AIDS exposition in
downtown Rangoon on Nov. 4 - 9, drawing PM Gen. Khin Nyunt
and daily crowds of 10,000 visitors. It was so well attended
in fact that authorities extended the expo until November 12.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health, along with
UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, Population Services International
(PSI), Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland, Myanmar Maternal and
Child Welfare Association, Myanmar Medical Association,
Myanmar National Railways, and a host of other GOB,
international NGO, and Government operated NGO organizations
answered questions and handed out HIV/AIDS-related literature.

3. A walk around the exposition hall made it clear the event
was designed to raise awareness and educate at all levels --
curious citizens, government employees, and thousands of
visiting school children -- on the risks and consequences of
activities that can spread HIV/AIDS. Frank and sometimes
graphic presentations of HIV/AIDS transmission vectors and
HIV/AIDS symptoms adorned the walls of many of the booths.
Visitors were given a plethora of professionally produced
pamphlets on HIV/AIDS issues, including themes of
heterosexual and homosexual transmission, intravenous drug
use transmission, mother-fetus transmission, home-based care
for family members living with HIV/AIDS, and also effective
use of male and female condoms.

4. In addition to educating, the Ministry of Health also
administered "confidential" HIV/AIDS tests and counseling on
site, and by day seven of the expo had drawn blood from over
130 visitors. The Ministry also showcased an HIV/AIDS
counseling telephone hotline reportedly available to the
public throughout the year.

5. COMMENT: Whether the exposition successfully targeted
high risk groups was hard to gauge, but it was heartening to
see the general population so well represented in the
audience. Though the confidentiality of the HIV/AIDS tests
offered on site was impossible to determine, the Ministry
official staffing the booth seemed firmly convinced that the
testing process and results would be kept confidential. The
GOB will mark World AIDS day on December 1 with a low-key
field day in a Rangoon Park, co-sponsored by UNAIDS and the
Ministry of Sport.

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