HCM CITY (VNS) — The US is providing nearly US$1 million for a two-year project to combat HIV/AIDS in southern Viet Nam, including HCM City.
The programme, launched yesterday by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), focuses particularly on HCM City, Can Tho, and An Giang, where there is a high rate of HIV carriers and at-risk populations.
Managed by NGO Centre for Promotion of Quality of Life, Community HIV Link will seek to strengthen the ability of local organisations to reach vulnerable populations and link them with appropriate HIV services.
The centre said the programme sought to deliver community-based HIV/AIDS services to 4,000 high-risk people like injecting drug users, women sex workers, and men who had sex with men and to 2,000 people living with HIV.
Rena Bitter, the US's consul in HCM City, said at the launch ceremony that in the past 10 years the US had provided financial and technical support to control HIV/AIDS across Viet Nam.
In HCM City alone 25,000 people had been provided with anti-retroviral treatment, she said.
The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is funding the new programme, focused on technical support and so co-operation from community-based organisations was necessary, she said.
Tieu Thi Thu Van, chief officer at HCM City's AIDS Prevention Committee, said since December 1990, when the first HIV infection was detected in HCM City more than 59,000 other cases had been found.
Last year the number of new cases was 1,733, down from almost 5,000 in 2008, and Van attributed the fall to the city's efforts with support from international organisations.
But with the epidemic remaining a threat and government and international support dwindling, it was important to strengthen the ability of community-based organisations.
HCM City hopes to prevent new infections by 2030.
Together with civil society and non-governmental and mass organisations such as the Women's Union, USAID helps deliver prevention, care, and treatment and advocates policies to improve access to and the quality of HIV/AIDS services. — VNS