|Drug Use and HIV Vulnerability (UNAIDS, 2001, 238 p.)|
|Chapter 5: Myanmar|
Myanmar is experiencing a continuing increase in injecting drug use, currently estimated at around 300,000. There is a major ongoing shift from smoking opium to injecting heroin.
There is equivocal evidence about the availability of injecting equipment. It is probably available but considered too expensive by the average drug user.
The Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1993, Section 15, states that drug users must voluntarily register and enter treatment or else be liable for a three to five year mandatory period of imprisonment.
The 1945 'Burma Excise Act' regulates the provision of needles and syringes and prohibits the selling or possessing of hypodermic needles or any other apparatus suitable for injecting any intoxicating drugs without license. Contravention of this section is punishable with six months imprisonment or with a fine or with both.
The law as it stands militates against early prevention and effective peer education approaches with active drug users.
There was an expressed interest at Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control to review both Section 15 of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1993 and the 1945 Burma Excise Act.
Treatment is oriented towards total abstinence but failure rates are high. At a conservative, estimates are at 60-70 per cent relapse within a month of discharge.
The rates of HIV infections among injecting drug users are high; on an average 60-70 per cent. In some states of the country the rates are even higher.