|People ling with HIV/AIDS receives medicine at the Cao Loc Commune Health Station in the nothern Lang Son Province. Only 30 per cent of people with HIV/AIDS have joined health insurance plans in Viet Nam. — Photo baolangson.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Although the country was ready to pay part of the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment with medical insurance starting in the middle of the month, many still avoid buying the package because they're afraid their personal information will become known publicly.
Nguyen Hoang Long, head of the Department for HIV/AIDS Prevention, said only 30 per cent of people with HIV/AIDS have joined health insurance plans in Viet Nam.
A HIV/AIDS patient who is receiving treatment at HCM City's District 8, who wanted to stay anonymous, said he would rather pay for the treatment than revealing his identity.
Those with HIV/AIDS can get free treatment at health centres or public health consultant facilities nationwide.
Long said 80 per cent of the treatment costs were paid for by foreign sponsors. However, the funding from the sponsors was dwindling. Many of them wanted to support countries in more difficult situations.
The attempt to expand health insurance coverage to more people with HIV/AIDS is part of an effort to gradually shift the payment of treatment fees from foreign-funded projects and programmes to the country's health insurance fund.
It is estimated that by 2018 foreign funding for HIV/AIDS treatment will be completely cut off. If a patient purchases health insurance they will only have to pay for part of the treatment.
The health sector has encouraged those living with HIV to go to local medical facilities where health insurance cards cover their treatment costs, instead of outpatient clinics.
Unfortunately, for fear of being stigmatised, many patients are still avoiding visiting medical facilities near their homes, posing a significant barrier to covered health insurance treatments, Long said.
Nguyen Ngoc Thoa, deputy head of the Community Support and Consultancy Centre in HCM City's District 8, said she was worried that if the situation was not to be addressed, patients' conditions would get worse.
Meanwhile, Tieu Thi Thu Van, head of the city's Committee for HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the city would work on a programme that kept all patient information confidential.
Van also said patients with health insurance would still have to pay part of the treatment costs, but that it would probably be quite affordable.
In the first six months of the year there were 832 new cases of HIV/AIDS in HCM City. — VNS