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A person receives an HIV test in Vietnam. Photo by UNAIDS.
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.
Achieving many positive achievements in HIV/AIDS prevention and control, however, this work still has some shortcomings, Long said.
The current law still has many limitations, with no specific regulation on who is entitled to access information about HIV-infected people, which can help spread the disease, VNS reported.
Therefore, the draft law adds more people who can access information about HIV-infected people to ensure the benefits of HIV-infected people in their treatment, payment of medical examination and treatment costs as well as preventing infection risks of HIV for people taking care of and treating the patients.
"The head and the person who was assigned to monitor the HIV/AIDS pandemic under a competent State agency on HIV/AIDS prevention and control at all levels" will be notified of the HIV test results for statistics and assessment the risk of HIV infection in the community, the draft reads.
Permanent Deputy Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong (standing) gives a speech at the meeting in Hanoi.
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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