Bangkok, Thailand — Monday is World AIDS Day, and people around the world will be commemorating the occasion. According to estimates by UNAIDS, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV throughout the world, including 2.5 million children.
During 2007, some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people with HIV are infected before 25 years of age and die of AIDS before 35. Around 95 percent of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away and that there is still much to be done. However, in Burma, HIV/AIDS activists and volunteers are being threatened and suppressed daily by the military authorities.
Maggin Monastery in Rangoon’s Thingangyun township, where HIV patients were being cared for, was raided in September, 2007. According to witnesses, soldiers and riot police broke into the monastery and violently arrested four monks, including the abbot and four people caring for the HIV patients. Then Burma’s military authorities sealed the monastery and forced a number of monks suspected of being supporters of the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the dozen HIV/AIDS patients who lived there, to leave.