Vietnam among top 4 countries in treating HIV/AIDS: official

By Hoang Phong   September 30, 2020 | 01:50 am PT
Vietnam among top 4 countries in treating HIV/AIDS: official
A person receives an HIV test in Vietnam. Photo by UNAIDS.
Vietnam is one of four countries with the best HIV/AIDS treatment in the world along with Germany, the U.K. and Switzerland, Acting Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said.

Vietnam has a rate of HIV-infected people receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment with a viral load below the inhibitory threshold reaching 96 percent, contributing to reducing community HIV infection, Long told a meeting of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs on Tuesday.

Over the past 10 years, Vietnam has kept the community HIV infection rate below 0.3 percent.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), since 2000 the country has deployed preventive measures to stop 400,000 people from being infected with HIV while 150,000 received treatment that prevented death from AIDS.

According to statistics from Vietnam’s health ministry, around 250,000 HIV patients are still alive, but only 210,000 know their HIV status.

In 2014, Vietnam became the first country in Asia to adopt the 90-90-90 targets set by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, under which by 2020, 90 percent of those living with HIV would know their HIV status; 90 percent of people who know their status are on HIV treatment; and 90 percent of all patients on treatment would have undetectable levels of HIV in their bodies.

USAID first supported HIV/AIDS programs in Vietnam in the mid-1990s.

Despite achieving positive results in HIV/AIDS prevention and control, however, some shortcomings remain, Long said, adding the current law still has many limitations, with no specific regulation on who is entitled to access information about HIV patients.

Therefore, he proposed the amended law add greater information access on HIV infectees to ensure proper treatment, payment of medical examinations and treatment costs as well as prevent infection among carers treating patients.

Vietnam has been struggling to find funds for its HIV/AIDS programs after foreign donors started to pull out when it achieved middle income status. These funds are expected to dry up completely by the end of this year.

By then, drugs are scheduled to be provided under Vietnam’s health insurance system.

According to experts in the field, the lowest cost for treatment for one HIV patient per year exceeds VND4 million ($172), but for those who are drug resistant, the cost can be seven to eight times higher.

Drug resistance rises because people halt treatment halfway or do not follow the assigned treatment regimen.

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