A third of nation’s AIDS patients treated with antiretroviral drugs

HA NOI — About 7,000 of HIV/AIDS patients have received treatment with anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, announced Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen at the second National Conference on HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment in Ha Noi yesterday.

Hundreds of international and domestic officials and experts gathered to exchange their experiences in implementing HIV/AIDS treatment and discuss solutions for improving treatment for HIV/AIDS-infected people.

A system of community-based care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, launched in 1996, is currently in place nationwide, with outpatient clinics, counselling and testing centres in 40 provinces. The care, support and treatment model has been applied in 100 districts in 20 provinces, with support from the Global Fund.

The increasing number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam, however, is laying a burden o­n HIV/AIDS treatment centres in terms of shortages of drugs, healthcare workers and beds, according to Xuyen.

ARVs, the main drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS, cost US$8,000-10,000 per patient per year, making foreign aid for treatment a necessity.


Aiding the HIV battle

HA NOI – The international community has shown its willingness to continue to help Viet Nam fight HIV/AIDS, the Ministry of Health said.
At the midterm Consultative Group (CG) Meeting in Ha Long last weekend, the United Nations pledged to continue its aid to Viet Nam in this field, focusing o­n improving living conditions for HIV/AIDS patients, particularly children. Other donors also cited HIV/AIDS as a challenge to Viet Nam’s development mission and suggested ways to co-operate to fight the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, since 1999, the international community has funded a total of 29 HIV/AIDS-related projects with a combined capital of US$103 million. The projects have focused o­n implementing nine action plans laid out by the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control by 2010 programme and Vision 2020, the ministry said.
Prominent among these was a US project o­n preventing HIV/AIDS, the HIV/AIDS Control project of the World Bank and Global Fund’s community-based project o­n strengthening care and consultation to HIV/AIDS-affected people.



In 2006, the quantity of ARV drugs approved by the State budget was sufficient for treating 1,000 patients for o­ne year, but the implementation of ARV therapy has not been carried out evenly among provinces and cities, said the director of the Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, Duong Quoc Trong.

By 2010, the National Action Plans o­n HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment aims for 70 per cent of adults and 100 per cent of children infected with HIV/AIDS and eligible for treatment to have access to ARVs.

The plans’ focus includes reducing the mother-to-child transmission rate and removing the stigma from HIV/AIDS patients, in addition to keeping the spread of the disease under control.

"Viet Nam is trying to contain HIV/AIDS to below 0.3 per cent of the population by the year 2010 and thereafter," Trong said.

Toward this goal, the Government plans to spend nearly VND2.8 trillion ($175 million) to establish HIV/AIDS control centres in 52 out of 64 cities and provinces nationwide by 2010.

By march 2007, Viet Nam had reported 122,487 HIV/AIDS patients, of whom 13,157 had died.