Viet Nam News
HCM CITY– The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Việt Nam continued to be under control this year, with a reduction in new incidences of HIV/AIDS and mortality from AIDS, according to the Ministry of Health.
Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến, however, said that more than 8,000 new HIV cases were detected every year.
"Between 3,000 and 4,000 people die due to AIDS each year," Tiến said at a meeting held last Saturday to respond to World AIDS Day and the 2018 national action month on HIV/AIDS prevention (November 11 to December 12).
"The country has nearly 50,000 people with HIV in the community, but does not know their status. These are challenges which we still face,” Tiến said.
The rate of HIV infection among users who inject drugs, especially among youth, has seen an upward trend, according to the ministry.
The shortage of capital for HIV/AIDS prevention is one of many challenges as the coverage of preventive and treatment services remains limited.
Discrimination against people with HIV also continues.
“HIV/AIDS could break out again if we ignore prevention or have irrational attitudes,” Tiến said.
Mary Tarnowka, US Consul General, said that through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the US government had invested over $800 million to support the HIV/AIDS response in Việt Nam.
Nearly 80,000 people with HIV/AIDS, including more than 2,800 children, had been given life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
“Việt Nam has shown global leadership by making the HIV response sustainable through the social health insurance platform. Valued at nearly $6 million, social health insurance’s first ARV procurement will cover medication for 33 per cent of all ARV treatment patients in 2019,” she said.
Last Friday, the Ministry of Health, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and global health non-profit organization PATH launched pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services for HIV prevention.
PrEP is a way for people, who do not have HIV but are at substantial risk of contracting it, to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy.
If someone who is on PrEP is exposed to HIV, the medication can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.
PrEP is extremely effective when taken correctly, and can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 92 per cent or more. The scaling up of PrEP is essential to Việt Nam being able to dramatically bend down the curve of new HIV infections, according to the press release from the US Consulate.
Dr. Nguyễn Hoàng Long, director of Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control, said: “We’re proud that Việt Nam is the second country in Asia, after Thailand, to roll out PrEP nationwide.”
“PrEP will be made available in 11 provinces by 2020. With a target of 7,300 people enrolled, we aim to provide these services to all those who need them nationwide,” Long said.
VAAC, USAID, and PATH launched pilot PrEP services in June 2017 through the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project.
Healthy Markets has worked with community groups led by people at risk of HIV, provincial health leaders, private sector partners, and private and public outpatient clinics to provide PrEP for 1,895 people at risk of HIV in HCM City and Hà Nội.
This includes men who have sex with men, transgender women, and HIV-negative partners of people living with HIV who are not viral load suppressed.
PrEP was also made available through a pilot project run by UNAIDS.
The USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project has also worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS and PEPFAR partners to support VAAC to develop a comprehensive package of national policies, guidelines and training materials that will support the scaling up of PrEP. – VNS