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Events mark first patients receiving antiretrovirals covered by social health insurance

Update: March, 08/2019 - 18:51
A medical worker delivers antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for patients. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Simultaneous events were held in Hà Nội, Nghệ An, HCM City, and Hải Phòng on Friday to celebrate the first patients receiving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs covered by social health insurance (SHI).

Co-organised by Vietnam Authority for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC), Ministry of Health and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the events mark an important milestone in securing domestic sustainable financing for the HIV response in Việt Nam and ensuring that people living with HIV access treatment services.

Over 400 representatives from government agencies, international organisations, community-based organisations working with HIV patients, people living with HIV, and media agencies attended the four events.

HIV patients need lifelong treatment that can be costly and early and continuous treatment enables them to lead healthy lives and effectively eliminates the risk of sexual transmission to their partners, says a press release issued by the US embassy on Friday.

Historically, ARVs were provided free-of-charge in Việt Nam through international donors. However, over the last five years, the PEPFAR programme, through its activities, has been working with the Government of Việt Nam to transition the responsibility for financing the country’s HIV response from donors to SHI.

Key in the transition was revising the Social Health Insurance Law and benefit package to include funding for HIV treatment; integrating HIV clinics in the public health system; increasing the number of HIV patients enrolled in SHI from 40 per cent in 2014 to 89 per cent in 2018; procuring ARVs through SHI; and creating procedures for HIV services reimbursement by SHI.

Across the world, very few developing countries are applying their SHI programmes to cover HIV treatment services. Among the PEPFAR focused countries, Việt Nam is the only country mobilising domestic resources through SHI to cover HIV treatment services. This can be attributed to the Government of Việt Nam’s strong commitment to the long-term sustainability of its HIV/AIDS response.

Việt Nam is also a global leader in achieving viral suppression, at 93 per cent.

Viral suppression is a measurement of the degree to which the HIV virus is in a person’s bloodstream.

When an HIV positive patient achieves viral suppression and has an undetectable viral load, not only do they have a significantly increased likelihood of improved health outcomes, but it also eliminates their likelihood of transmitting HIV. — VNS

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