The Burmese military junta’s secrecy over HIV/AIDS infection in the country has Indian officials tearing their hair. With the junta’s administration concealing facts on the disease programmes to control the spread of the endemic is being seriously jeopardized.

The District Chairman and other senior officials based in Tamu, a western Burma border township have flatly denied the existence of drug users and sex workers on their soil when Indian officials sought cooperation to fight cross-border HIV/AIDS.

“When we approached them regarding the steps taken by their government to contain the disease, they (Burmese officials) said they did not have any intravenous drug users (IDUs) or commercial sex workers (CSWs),” said Dr T R Kom, project the Director of Manipur State AIDS control Society.

Burmese officials are hiding facts and figures regarding people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, he added.

A day long seminar “Role of media intervention in preventing HIV/AIDS and promoting awareness” was held on Thursday in the northeastern Indian border state Manipur. It was sponsored by the American Center, Kolkata.

“Hearing such responses is very disappointing when we want to focus more on prevention and other HIV/AIDS intervention programmes across the border,” Dr T R Kom said.

India’s Non-Governmental Organizations have been distributing syringes, condoms and medicines ‘free of cost’ to many IDUs and CSWs from Burma coming to Moreh, opposite Tamu on the Indo-Burma border.

More than 38 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world and the UN estimates that without preventive measures, 45 million new cases could occur by 2010.

The visiting American Director Douglas referred to a congressional report which predicts that by 2011; more than 25 million children could be orphaned because of the HIV virus.