Vietnam Time

1/30/2018 3:57:25 PM

Drops in new HIV infections for tenth consecutive year

Vietnam saw decreases in the number of new HIV infections, people living with AIDS and AIDS-related fatalities for the tenth consecutive year in 2017, according to the Ministry of Health.

Doctors of the centre for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in northern Vinh Phuc province provide ARV care for a woman. (Photo: VNA)

More than 209,400 people are living with HIV nationwide, including more than 90,100 cases of HIV developing into full-blown AIDS, and about 94,600 people have died of HIV/AIDS so far. The country’s HIV/AIDS prevalence among the population remains below 0.3 per cent.

Last year, the country recorded about 9,800 people newly infected with HIV and 1,800 deaths due to HIV, down 1.1 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, from 2016. The number of people contracting AIDS also declined by 39 per cent.

Vietnam intensified efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS last year, paving the way for the expansion and improved quality of HIV/AIDS treatment. A total of 294 methadone detoxification facilities were opened nationwide, treating some 52,800 drug users. Methadone medication was also offered at 216 commune-based healthcare establishments in 23 provinces.

The Ministry of Health has started to provide Buprenorphine treatment and it plans to bring the medication to drug addicts in the mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Son La and Nghe An this year.

The ministry has set up 401 anti-retroviral (ARV) clinics providing outpatient care for people living with HIV/AIDS, while ARV drugs are also available in 562 medical stations and prisons. ARV therapy was covered by health insurance from January onwards.

By 2020, 80 per cent ARV drug costs will be covered by health insurance

The number of HIV/AIDS carriers joining health insurance rose from 50 per cent in October 2016 to 82 per cent in September last year.

Community-based HIV testing and counselling have been scaled up in 15 cities and provinces while oral HIV self-testing has been also piloted at community-based organisations.

In addition, the ministry has given away about 28 million needles to some 126,000 drug users and 21 million condoms to drug addicts, prostitutes, men who have sex with men and spouses and partners of HIV carriers.

This year, the ministry will continue implementing the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control with the focus on keeping the HIV prevalence under 0.3 per cent in meeting the United Nations’ 90-90-90 Goals by 2020.

At a treatment centre for addicts in Hai Phong (Source: VNA)

GENDER INEQUALITY WORSENS SPREAD OF HIV

Gender inequality contributes to the spread of HIV and reduces women and girls’ capacity of response to the epidemic, heard a workshop on January 17.

The event on gender assessment of Vietnam’s HIV response was held by the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health and the U.N. Entity for General Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women).

Sexual acts are still the most common route of HIV transmission, VAAC noted.

At the workshop, some participants said gender inequality was mentioned in the framework of guidance for HIV response, including the Law on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control and the national strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention and control until 2020. This legal framework is a good starting point to solve the gender aspects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

However, the national strategy has yet to fully recognise the connection between gender inequality and HIV.

U.N. Women suggested that to deal with gender aspects of HIV, Vietnam should have a strong preventive programme to provide necessary information for women and girls to protect themselves, along with accessible treatment, caring and assistance systems at reasonable prices. It should eradicate stigma and discrimination against women while ensuring women’s rights./.

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