|WHO Representative in Vietnam Kidong Park addresses the conference in Hanoi on December 4
Data show that since the first HIV case was reported in the country in December 1990, there have been 215,661 people living with this virus and 103,616 deaths from HIV/AIDS.
In the first nine months of 2019, 7,779 people became newly infected with HIV, 2,984 entered the AIDS phase, and 1,428 died from relevant illnesses in Vietnam. Up to 39.4 percent of the new HIV cases are aged between 16 and 29 while another 34.3 percent between 30 and 39.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Cuong said thanks to the efforts by the Government and strong support from international organisations, by the end of September, Vietnam had provided antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for more than 142,000 HIV patients, rising 270 folds from 2005. Over 10,000 new patients receive this type of treatment every year.
The programme’s effectiveness has been maintained over years, he noted, adding that in the first nine months of this year, 96 percent of the patients using ARV therapy had their viral load within the suppression level and nearly 95 percent had the load within the undetectable level.
Vietnam is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to have worked to achieve the 90-90-90 targets (90 percent of people living with HIV know their status; of whom 90 percent are under ARV treatment; of whom 90 percent are virally suppressed) in 2020. It began the efforts in October 2014 with a view to ending the AIDS pandemic in 2030. So far, it has obtained the second target, which is 90 percent of the people diagnosed with HIV are under ARV treatment.
However, Cuong also admitted numerous challenges to the accomplishment of the two remaining targets, pointing out the limited public awareness of ARV therapy, discrimination and self-discrimination, difficulties in accessing high-risk groups, the shortage of ARV medicine supply, and the strong decline in foreign financial assistance.
Applauding the ARV therapy expansion in Vietnam, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in the country Kidong Park said Vietnam is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific to have a considerable expansion of ARV coverage. It has also been creative in helping HIV carriers access treatment.
However, HIV/AIDS remains a major public health issue since Vietnam still records nearly 10,000 new HIV cases and about 2,000 AIDS-related deaths each year, he said, noting that without continued attention, HIV/AIDS will be a threat to not only health but also social stability.