Government plans for children affected by HIV/AIDS

Vietnam plans to spend VND 97.4 billion on a national action plan for children affected by HIV/AIDS from now until 2010 in a bid to ensure that most of them will have their needs met by 2020.

The plan will be jointly carried out by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Education with technical assistance provided by various international organisations.

This was announced at a two-day conference in the northern province of Hai Duong, which began o­n September 22.

MOLISA Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan emphasised that children suffer the most from the consequences of HIV/AIDS and that many of the fundamental rights of those affected by HIV/AIDS have not been upheld.

Nguyen Trong An, Deputy Chief of the MOLISA’s Child Protection and Care Department said that HIV/AIDS has long been considered an issue for adults o­nly, so children affected by the virus have often been neglected.

Vulnerable children need health care, education services and their nutritional intake monitored. They are also entitled to be treated without stigma and in a non-discriminatory fashion, said An.

According to the MOLISA, about 143,000 children in the country have lost their mother or father or both to HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry reported that by the end of 2008, 2,415 children under 16 had contracted the deadly virus.

By the end of August, there were 132,000 HIV-positive carriers in Vietnam , mostly in the 20-39 age group with males accounting for 82% of cases.

The ten provinces and cities recording the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS patients in 2008 were Dien Bien, Son La, Thai Nguyen, Yen Bai, Quang Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City , Hai Phong, Hanoi , and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

The Government has been providing anti-viral drugs, blood tests and counselling free of charge to thousands of people living with HIV.