BA RIA-VUNG TAU (VNS)— Early intervention and treatment can almost completely prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam, a workshop heard in Vung Tau on Monday.
If pregnant women with HIV get early access to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, the transmission rate would be zero per cent, Assoc Prof Dr Bui Duc Duong, deputy head of the Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, said,
This means their babies would be healthy like normal ones, he told the workshop that reviewed a project on HIV/AIDS Prevention in Viet Nam funded by the World Bank.
Generally, early intervention and treatment would curtail transmission by 96 per cent, he said.
For this, more information would need to be disseminated to help people understand that being infected with HIV is not a death sentence, he added.
A report by the administration showed that the number of new HIV-infected people has reduced since 2007, going down from 30,846 to 17,780 last year.
In the first nine months of this year 8,560 people tested positive.
As of September the number of people living with HIV was 206,435. Of them 59,206 have AIDS while 62,073 have so far died of the disease.
Dien Bien Province continued to top the country in the ratio of HIV-infected people, with 992.8 per 100,000 population. It was followed by HCM City with 665 and Thai Nguyen Province with 579.
In the last five years the number of HIV-infected people aged between 30 and 39 nationwide has been on an upward trend. Last year they accounted for 43 per cent of newly infected people.
There has been an increase in the ratio of sexual transmission in the first nine months of this year to 46.4 per cent from 42.3 per cent last year.
Most of the incidence was in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta and the south-eastern region.
Infections transmitted through blood fell to 41.3 per cent from 46.2 per cent last year, and was mostly found in the northern region.
New infections among men who have sex with men have been rising in the last two years.
Duong warned of the high risk of HIV infection among ethnic minorities, but said it was difficult to prevent in northern mountain provinces like Dien Bien, Lai Chau, and Lao Cai because of people's habit of giving themselves opiate shots to relieve pain.
More than 69,880 people with HIV use ARV.
This number is likely to double by 2015.
"The steady decrease in new HIV infections is a result of assistance from international organisations like the World Bank," Duong said.
The project on HIV/AIDS prevention, with funding of US$65 million, has been carried out in 32 provinces and cities.
Authorities have handed out 21 million syringes to addicts and 48 million condoms to prostitutes for free.
Thanh Hoa, Nam Dinh, Thai Nguyen, and An Giang Provinces and Hai Phong have introduced methadone-substitution treatment for heroin addicts as part of the programme. —VNS