HCMC applies early treatment for HIV patients with ARV

The municipal People’s Committee has approved a project to treat HIV-infected people with antiretroviral drug (ARV) earlier by calling for social contribution, Ho Chi Minh City authorities showed its determination in the fight against the disease.

Dr. Tieu Thi Thu Van says that the city has more than 48,000 people living with HIV whose health can be improved if they receive early treatment with ARV(photo: SGGP)

The city is striving not to have any more new HIV-infection cases in next 15 years.

Currently the city has more than 48,000 HIV-infection cases. As per the Ministry of  Health,  HIV-infected patients must have a CD4 count test so that medical workers can determine their stage of HIV infection and their readiness for ARV treatment.  CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection

HIV-infected persons is recommended to start free treatment  with ARV only when their CD4 count drops below 350 cells/mm3.

This is in line with the most recent WHO Treatment Guidelines which increased the eligibility from under 350 to 500 cells/mm3.

Based on those criteria, 35 medical clinics for outpatients in hospitals and prisons, and rehabilitation centers are treating 23,000 HIV people with ARV, accounting for nearly 48 percent of infection cases.

Accordingly, half of HIV-infected people without being treated with ARV will be threat of transmission of the disease.


Currently the project makers are preparing documents, facilities, ARV supply and trained medical workers. As scheduled, the project will start  next year at four to five medical units. For the period 2016-2018, the project will be expanded in districts and wards. All people who do not want to receive free-of-charge ARV treatment can pay for the treatment.

Scientific study proves that  providing early antiretroviral treatment significantly improves health among people living with HIV; reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to HIV-negative sexual partners by 96 percent.

In addition, people whose HIV is treated with ARV  can enjoy an increase in life expectancy of 40 years

When people living with HIV register to participate in the project, they will be offered examination, consultation, periodic medical check-up and tests of immune conditions and opportunistic infections and medicines.

In reality, the HIV people taking care and treatment program in the city has helped improving health among people living with HIV and their living  quality.

Pharmaceutical companies and benefactors will contribute to help HIV-infected people; accordingly, the price of the medicine in the first phase will be subsidized, cutting one third of market price. It is estimated that a person living with HIV will pay VND12,000-22,000 (VND 0.56- 1.03) a day for treatment spending.

From 2016 when there will be no more support of international sources, patients have to pay CD4 tests, hence treatment spending will increase to VND14,000-24,000 (US$ 0.65- 1.13) a day per person.

By Boi Diep – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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