UNAIDS and WHO commend Viet Nam's progress in HIV and urge continued action
30 NOVEMBER 2010 | HANOI - Exemplary political commitment of the Government of Viet Nam in responding to its HIV epidemic over the past 20 years has led to solid results in scaling up prevention and treatment, including harm reduction among drug users and provision of life-saving treatment for people living with HIV, according to senior UNAIDS and WHO officials speaking at a joint press briefing for World AIDS Day.
Underlining the 2010 World AIDS Day theme of "universal access and human rights" Mr Steve Kraus, UNAIDS Asia-Pacific Regional Director and Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO's Director of HIV/AIDS Department urged Viet Nam to continue to expand and increase its efforts, particularly to ensure that the key affected populations in the country—men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers—have access to comprehensive HIV services.
"We have seen significant progress in Viet Nam," said Mr Steve Kraus. "The rate of new HIV infections has stabilized and there are fewer people dying from HIV. But to sustain progress and reach universal access we must reach out further to key affected populations and ensure all programmes are firmly grounded in human rights principles. People must be able to access HIV services where they feel safe and are ensured the best possible confidential care, without fear of stigmatization."
Viet Nam’s HIV epidemic is concentrated among people who inject drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men. Nearly one in five injecting drug users are living with HIV nationwide, and in some areas of the country HIV prevalence in this key population is more than 50%. A 2009 study found that HIV prevalence among female sex workers in 10 provinces was 8.5%, varying from 0.3% to 23%. Across Viet Nam, an estimated 243 000 people were living with the disease at the end of 2009.
In Viet Nam, an estimated 53.7% of people in need of antiretroviral treatment were receiving it in 2009. However, many mothers and children lack prevention of mother-to-child transmission services and tuberculosis (TB) and HIV burden is still high. Due to the epidemic concentrated among high-risk groups, increased and improved harm reduction services, methadone substitution therapy and sustained HIV treatment will be required in order to limit the spread of HIV in the country.
"Viet Nam's success in increasing antiretroviral treatment 16-times over the past five years is outstanding," said Dr Hirnschall. "We look forward to work with Viet Nam to implement WHO guidelines, including the new advice we are issuing today on vital TB prevention needed for people living with HIV. TB is the biggest killer for people living with HIV globally and we hope our new policy will help saving many more lives."
Noting current flat-lining of global funding on AIDS, the UN officials underlined how countries such as Viet Nam will increasingly be required to build sufficient resource bases to commit higher levels of funds domestically to AIDS. "Gains in the AIDS response are fragile—so our commitment to the response must remain strong. Domestic funding for the HIV response is a wise investment for the future well-being of Viet Nam, and must be a shared responsibility," said Mr Kraus.
"By working with the Government, and civil society and community organizations of the people living with HIV, we are committed to supporting Viet Nam in the development of its response over the coming decade," Dr Hirnschall said.
For further information, please contact:
Ms Nguyen Thi Bich Hue
Joint UN Team on HIV in Viet Nam
81A Tran Quoc Toan
Telephone: 3822 4383 Ext: 105
Mobile: 0984 259 523