Vietnam hopes to eliminate HIV/ AIDS in 2020

Through 25 years of fighting against HIV/AIDS epidemic, Vietnam was seen as one of the countries making substantial progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

During past eight years Vietnam has reduced the number of HIV infected people, the number of AIDS patients and AIDS-related deaths. However, the fight is facing difficulties because there is a cut in international aids; hence, AIDS and HIV patients must pay for treatment.

Being one of the cities going ahead in early implementation of measures against HIV/AIDS, Ho Chi Minh City achieved success in cutting down new HIV infection cases thanks to the three cut program (cutting down crimes, drug and prostitution.

The program launched amongst residents proved effectiveness in reducing the number of new infection cases and provided care to groups of people who are at high risk of contracting the disease such as drug addicts, prostitutes…

However, Deputy Head of the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City Dr. Nguyen Huu Hung, said that the proportion of sexually transmitted HIV infections increased with 57.5 percent and the rate of HIV infections through blood transfusion is 41.3 percent.

There has been an increase in HIV infection because of unsafe sexual intercourse warning the spreading of the disease amongst a high risk group of people in the community, he said.

Dr. Tieu Thi Thu Van, chief of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Committee in HCMC, said that the city has around 30,000 homosexual and trans-genders which is the group of high risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS.

Dr. Hoang Dinh Canh, deputy chief of the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AID Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health (MoH), said Vietnam has about 330,000 people infected with HIV but the number can be higher as many people living with HIV don’t declare. All provinces in the country have HIV patients.

Speaking at a meeting in response to action month for HIV prevention in 2015, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is still a threat to health and lives of people and one of burden in Vietnam.

The Ministry of Health says that 80 percent of fund for fighting against HIV/ AIDS is from international aids which are being cut. In 2017, all international aids will be cut; accordingly Vietnamese authority conceived some plans including using state budget, increase in investment in provinces, health insurance paying the treatment and  calling for social contribution.

After the Law of Health Insurance changed, the insurance company will pay for the fee of HIV treatment. The Vietnam Administration of HIV/AID Control suggested providing free safe needles and condoms to drug addicts and sex workers and Methadone maintenance treatment are three ways to eliminate the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

When international aids are stable, the country has provided around 30 million free needles to drug addicts and 30 million condoms to prostitutes. Yet in five months of the year, total needles and condoms distributed to these special people were 3 million and 1.7 million respectively. HCMC has 31 medical clinics providing ARV treatment yet it cannot meet the increased demand.

Dr. Hung said that most of HIV patients come from meager-income families; hence they cannot afford treatment services leading to an interruption in treatment procedure. Accordingly it is impossible to complete the target of 90 percent of people living with HIV treated with ARV.

According to the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AID Control an estimated amount of VND420 billion (US$18.9 million) will be spent for buying ARV. VND420 billion is a big sum and it will be a giant disease burden on HIV patients.

Currently, just around 30 percent of HIV patient are covered by health insurance. It needs to encourage more HIV patients to buy health insurance. The country is striving for the 90-90-90 goal that mean 90 percent of people living with HIV today do not know that they have the virus; 90 percent of people living with HIV will receive antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

In 1990, Vietnam reported the first case of HIV. Of the about 300,000 HIV people reported in the country since 1990, about 227,000 are still alive, 86,000 dead. The number of AIDS patients is over 83,000.  The country has over 10,000 fresh HIV infection cases every year.

By Tuong Lam – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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