Youths in Myanmar are particularly at risk from HIV, with almost two thirds of the near quarter million people living with the virus in that country aged under 24, the UN Children's Fund said Monday.
About 100,000 women are also living with HIV in Myanmar and many newborns are at risk of being infected, Ramesh Shrestha, the UNICEF representative in Myanmar, said in a statement for World AIDS Day.
"Young people have a higher propensity for risk-taking behaviour which exposes them to avoidable risks including exposure to HIV," Shrestha said.
"It is estimated that there are approximately 240,000 people living with HIV in Myanmar, of which almost two thirds are young people under 24 years of age," the statement said.
International humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres has said that about 76,000 of those living with HIV in Myanmar are in urgent need of antiretroviral treatment (ART).
A senior Myanmar health ministry official said more funding was needed to prevent HIV spreading inside the country.
"More funds are needed not only ART for AIDS patients but also for prevention projects," Kyaw Nyunt Sein told AFP.
About 11,000 AIDS patients around the country are getting ART from the government and international NGOs, he said.
Only 170 administrative regions out of 325 around the country can implement 100 percent condom promotion to prevent the HIV virus spreading because of funding shortages.
"We cannot give complete prevention. The disease mostly occurs through sexual contact, that's why we want to do 100 percent condom promotion for youths," he said.
Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962 and the impoverished nation's healthcare system is in poor condition.