Vietnam aims to treat HIV, halt drug rise
Vietnam must step up efforts to ensure 90 percent of HIV-infected people will receive sustained antiretroviral (ARV) therapy by 2020, in line with the international UN target, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting of National Committee for AIDS, Prostitution and Drug Prevention on December 8.
A drug rehabilitation activity in southern Binh Phuoc province. (Photo: VNA)
Currently, about 50 percent of Vietnam’s HIV-infected people are being treated with ARV. The Health Ministry, Financial Ministry and Vietnam Social Security must work together to ensure enough ARV drugs are available. State and local budgets must be generous enough to cover the drug supply, he said.
‘The treatments must be more convenient and sensitive to the patients’ mental and emotional needs,” he said.
According to Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong, 6,883 new people tested positive for HIV in the first nine months of this year. As many as 3,484 HIV patients saw their illness progress to AIDS and 1,260 patients died.
It is estimated that the number of new cases of people living with HIV will reach 9,800 by the end of 2017, while the number of deaths will climb to some 1, 800.
Vuong said that the number of newly HIV-infected people had decreased. This year had also been the ninth year in a row to see decreases in the number of new infections, the number of HIV cases that have turned to AIDS and the number of deaths.
Deputy PM Dam said that the HIV/AIDS work should not be neglected as the number of infections declines.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, there was a surge in the number of drug criminals this year. In the first nine months of this year, more than 906 kg of heroin were seized, an increase of 49 percent over the same period last year. More than 856 kg and over 979,000 synthetic drug tablets were seized, a hike of 129 percent compared to last year.
Dam said that without drastic measures, tackling synthetic drugs and growing drug addiction would be challenges. The Health Ministry has set up treatment guidelines. Sectors and localities must promote communication through video clips and programmes to warn people about the risks of synthetic drugs.
Dam said that local leaders must change attitudes towards drug treatment. The purpose of drug rehabilitation efforts, he said, is not to “purify” an area but to ensure addicted people can return to their communities and receive appropriate treatment as social order is maintained.
Dam urged localities to sustain the use of methadone in treating drug addiction.
He said that there were 408 locations nationwide where prostitutes were known to work. He ordered the provinces and cities to implement projects to reduce the number to 200 by the end of next year.
Officials at the meeting announced a methadone treatment management system at methadone.vaac.gov.vn, aiming to support patients being treated with methadone and link patients with treatment facilities.
Each patient will have an ID and electronic medical record to manage their treatment. They can take the medicine at any facility without having to bring their records with them. Using this app, they can make appointments and select treatment locations. The system will show patients the nearest location where they can access the medicine.