World Aids Day 2014: Heartbreaking photos of patients at an HIV hospice in Myanmar

Myanmar has one of the highest rates of HIV/Aids in Asia. An estimated 240,000 people are infected with the virus, and about 20,000 die from the disease every year. The percentage of GDP that Myanmar's government spends on health care is the lowest in the world. Only about 3% of patients receive antiretroviral therapy.

Intravenous drug users and sex workers are most at risk of becoming infected in Myanmar. There are few needle exchange programmes, and addicts and prostitutes are dealt with severely by the regime, making them reluctant to seek treatment. An anecdotal study found that nearly half of sex workers in Yangon have HIV.

Unsafe medical practices such as the reuse of needles and insufficient blood screening are also a major source of infection.

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To mark World Aids Day, photographers Soe Zeya Tun and Lauren DeCicca visited a private HIV hospice set up by Phyu Phyu Thin, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy party.

A severely ill HIV patient at a treatment centre in Yangon, Myanmar, waits to be taken to the hospital. The centre, which has been in operation since 2002, is owned and run by the opposition party, the National League for Democracy(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
One-month-old twin girls lie in an HIV clinic in Yangon. As the girls' parents are both HIV-positive, they are also probably infected, but have to wait until they are one-and-a-half years old to be tested(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
Children play with Phyu Phyu Thin, founder of the hospice and a member of parliament for the National League for Democracy party(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)
An HIV-positive woman lies on the floor at the treatment centre in Yangon(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
Children who have the HIV virus lie in their shelter during a Buddhist meditation session at the clinic in Yangon(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
A patient looks out from a window of a HIV/Aids hospice in the suburbs of Yangon(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)
An HIV-positive boy lies in the shelter at the clinic in Yangon(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
A patient rests inside a shelter at the hospice in the suburbs of Yangon(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)
Patients rest inside the hospice founded by National League for Democracy (NLD) party member Phyu Phyu Thin(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)
An HIV-positive woman cares for her children at the clinic in Yangon(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
An HIV-positive woman is accompanied by her husband as she receives treatment at the National League for Democracy's HIV clinic in Yangon(Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

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