Burma Army officers using HIV patients to avoid frontline duty

To avoid being sent to the frontline, Burma Army officers are allegedly paying people who are HIV/AIDS positive to be tested and admitted to Mingaladon Military Hospital under the officer’s names in order to be excused military duty.

A HIV/AIDS positive person who had been paid to be tested and admitted to hospital under a Burma Army captain’s name spoke to Karen News and explained how the scam worked.

“The agent paid me 200,000kyat. I don’t know how much the agent got. I have to stay in the hospital for 15 days. My blood, saliva and immunity system were tested, just like I was tested the first time it was found I was HIV positive. The hospital ward and food were good because I was admitted under the captain’s name.”

Karen News asked a worker at an organizations working with HIV positive people who said that the patients are doing this because they are poor.

The relative of a Warrant Officer Class Two who doesn’t want to be named explained to Karen News how his family paid a HIV positive person in order to get sick leave for his uncle who did not want to be sent to the frontline.

“My uncle is a Warrant Officer Class Two. He was supposed to go to the fighting in Kachin State. My grandmother doesn’t want him to be sent to frontline. So, the family paid a HIV positive person to be admitted to hospital under my uncle’s name. They [family] also had to pay many people at the hospital – it cost about 700,000 Kyat to get the necessary papers.”

The army officer’s family not only had to pay the HIV positive person, but also had to pay nurses, doctors and other workers at the hospital.

Karen News contacted Mingaladon Military Hospital for a response to the accusations and a health worker denied the practice.

Karen News spoke with army officers, people with HIV and agents who all confirmed the deception. The said the cases involved mainly army officers’ ranked from Warrant Officer Class Two to Captains – in some cases close friends acted as agent to find a HIV positive person and negotiate the costs.

A source close to an agent involved in the above case said that there is money to be made.

“My friend was the agent on this. She has been an agent on three cases. The agent has to find the patient [HIV positive] and negotiate the cost. She got 50,000 Kyat per person. The patients do it because they also get money.”

It is thought the practice has been ongoing for about four months and is on the increase. A member of a community based organization, from inside Burma, working on drug related HIV/AIDS issues said that many army officers are trying to avoid the intense fighting in Kachin State.

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