The steep increases in the price of fuel and basic commodities are also causing hardship for Burma’s HIV/AIDS patients.

HIV/AIDS activist Phyu Phyu Thin, in hiding from the authorities, told The Irrawaddy in a phone interview: “Patients’ lives are under threat.”

The cost of a month’s course of antiretroviral drugs had increased from 30,000 kyat to 37,000 kyat, and patients living outside Rangoon found it ever more difficult to afford to travel to the city for treatment, said Phyu Phyu Thin.

Before her escape into hiding, Phyu Phyu Thin ran a group of youth members of the National League for Democracy offering round-the-clock care and counseling for about 200 HIV/AIDS patients. The group provides accommodation for patients coming to Rangoon from outside the city.

Despite the HIV/AIDS crisis, the number of patients seeking help had dropped from about 10 a day to just a couple, Phyu Phyu Thin said. Patients were being told to alert the authorities if they encountered her, she told The Irrawaddy. Troops are actively searching for her and three other women activists.