Vietnam rolls out national program on HIV prevention drug

By Sen   December 2, 2018 | 09:35 pm PT
Vietnam rolls out national program on HIV prevention drug
Closeup of a young man with a simulated PrEP pill in his hand. Photo by Shutterstock/nito
Vietnam has launched national program for providing HIV prevention pills to high-risk groups to mark World AIDS Day, December 1.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout one's body and is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, said the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program in Vietnam has been launched by the Ministry of Health, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and global health non-profit PATH.

PrEP services would be provided in 11 provinces by 2020 and aim to get 7,300 registrants.

In Hanoi, the Institute for Development and Community Health, Light, has launched PrEP at the cost of VND550,000 ($21.35) for an individual per month.

In the U.S., an HIV-prevention drug called Truvada costs close to $2,000 for a month’s supply.

PrEP was trialled in Vietnam from June last year through the USAID Market Growth Facility project carried out by PATH.

The project worked with high-risk groups, the private sector and public and private outpatient clinics to assist 1,895 people in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The high-risk groups included MSM (men who have sex with men) and transgender people and HIV-negative partners of infected people who are not viral load suppressed. 

Vietnam is the second country in Asia after Thailand to deploy PrEP nationwide.

Mary Tarnowka, the U.S. consul general in HCMC, said the program will bring Vietnam one step closer to its goal of eliminating HIV by 2030.

There are 209,000 HIV patients in Vietnam. The government has only managed to keep track of 175,000 people and provided antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to 130,000 of these.

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