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The Nation-Suu Kyi warns of Aids to

Subject: The Nation-Suu Kyi warns of Aids toll on Burma

The Nation
Novemver 28, 1998

Suu Kyi warns of Aids toll on Burma

BURMA's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi warned that HIV infection in
Burma could reach epidemic proportions and become a threat to social and
economic stability.

She says HIV infection in Burma is spreading at an alarming rate and she
criticises the Burmese junta for not being prepared to deal with the

The opposition leader says Burma needs ''effective education programmes and
services now''.

''Unless we act urgently, HIV infection could reach epidemic proportions in
our country and become a major threat to our social stability and economic
potential,'' she said.

The 1991 Burmese Nobel Peace laureate made the pre-recorded statement
available to the media to mark the annual World Aids Day on Dec 1.

She said many Burmese, especially the young, are vulnerable to the HIV virus
because of the poor quality of Burmese health care and social services and
''because the authorities are not prepared to recognise the enormity of the
problem and to come to grips with it''.

Suu Kyi says the fight against Aids is not merely a health problem, but a
battle against ''ignorance, poverty, indifference, prejudice and
callousness''. There was a need not only to control the spread of the HIV
infection but also to provide understanding and compassion to those who have
already contracted the virus.

Suu Kyi urged the international community -- both the developed and
developing countries -- to unite in fighting the spread of the deadly HIV

''It is a sad irony that often those societies where there is most need for
such care and education are precisely those that lack the social, political
and financial framework within which necessary programmes can be
implemented,'' she said.

The political dissident appealed to rich countries to commit more of their
resources towards research on finding a cure for Aids.

''Please do not think of working towards a cure for HIV as a 'poor country
problem' but as a human concern. The gift of health and life is the greatest
gift that we can give to our fellow men,'' she said.

Suu Kyi urged those suffering from Aids not to despair, saying that there
are many people in the world who respect them for their courage and

''My heart goes out to both sufferers and carers in warm sympathy,'' she

The Nation