HA NOI (VNS) —The number of people with HIV in Viet Nam has fallen to under 0.3 per cent, said National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs Vice Chairman Dang Thuan Phong at a conference on Thursday.
The Ha Noi-based conference, "Investment strategy on HIV/AIDS prevention and control", was organized by the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs in coordination with the Viet Nam Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Phong said that Viet Nam had successfully achieved "three reductions" in efforts to decrease the number of people diagnosed with HIV, the rate of cases that progressed to AIDS and the number of AIDS-related deaths.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in May showed that the number of new HIV positive patients had fallen to 2,012 in the first quarter of this year, a 35 per cent drop from the same period last year.
The number of cases that had progressed to AIDS had decreased by 47 per cent while the number of AIDS-related deaths had declined by 53 per cent.
However, Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control Director General Nguyen Hoang Long warned that the number of HIV/AIDS infections were increasing.
He said that 77 per cent of HIV transmission in the community was driven by drug use. Unprotected sexual activity with prostitutes and between same-sex partners were also alleged to be factors contributing to HIV transmission.
Participants at the conference agreed that the latter factors presented challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The limited services available to the public was also said to be constraining efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Statistics provided by the Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control at the conference showed one third of HIV-positive patients were unable to receive treatment and that the supply of condoms and syringes was not meeting demand.
Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control Director General Nguyen Hoang Long said that the budget for the national target programme on HIV/AIDS prevention and control had decreased since 2012.
The budget was reduced from VND 245 billion (US$ 11.7 million) in 2012 to VND207 billion ($10 million) in the following year and has been slashed 60 per cent to VND 83 billion ($4 million) in 2014.
He also said that international assistance had supported up to 80 per cent of expenditure to control HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam but that finance for the projects was in its final stage.
The prime minister-approved plan "Securing finance for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in the period of 2013-2020" received praise from UNAIDS Viet Nam Country Director, Kristan Schoultz as a long term effort against HIV/AIDS.
Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control also proposed a new national target program in HIV/AIDS prevention and control for the period of 2016-2020 and a plan to secure funds to provide ARV (HIV antiretroviral drug) and methadone, the two most commonly used drugs for HIV.
The administration stressed that the key objective was to strengthen prevention and containment efforts for HIV/AIDS, including rolling out HIV/AIDS control centers across the country, treatment centers for AIDS patients and treatment centers utilising methadone therapy.
Future plans to raise public awareness and provide education were also raised at the conference.
Schoultz of UNAIDS said that Viet Nam needed to come up with plans to achieve the best results in providing HIV prevention services and also to provide financial sustainability for its programmes. — VNS