National Action Month against HIV/AIDS 2020 reviews 30-year response to the global epidemic

This year’s national action month, from November 10 to December 10, is themed “30 years of response to and opportunities to end the AIDS epidemic in Vietnam”.

Students of Ngo Quyen High School, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, made propaganda posters on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, drug addiction and prostitution. Photo provided by the school

The national action month on HIV/AIDS prevention and control is underway, providing an occasion for Vietnam and partners to look back on anti-HIV/AIDS achievements obtained over the last 30 years.

2020 is the 30th year since the first HIV infection was recorded in the country, according to the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health.

On August 14, the Prime Minister approved the national strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention and control for the new period, which targets an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Given this, the national action month is an important occasion for Vietnam and partners to review HIV/AIDS prevention and control attainments during the last three decades and learn lessons from them, the VAAC noted.

It said that there will be a number of practical activities to be held during the month, including a conference reviewing the 30 years of anti-HIV/AIDS efforts which will also mark the national action month and the World AIDS Day (December 1).

Authorities will also present gifts to disadvantaged children infected with HIV or affected by the epidemic at a treatment centre in Hanoi’s Ba Vi district.

VAAC Deputy Director Hoang Dinh Canh said the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the community has continued to ease while HIV testing services have been expanded and diversified, helping to detect nearly 10,000 new HIV cases.

Besides, social organisations’ participation in HIV/AIDS prevention and control has also been enhanced, the treatment of opioid addiction maintained and reformed, and the provision of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for HIV prevention implemented very well.

The antiretroviral (ARV) therapy has also been further expanded with higher quality, he noted, adding that more than 153,000 patients have successfully changed the ARV therapy from free drugs to those covered by health insurance.

However, Canh also acknowledged certain difficulties in the HIV/AIDS combat such as the emergence of new groups with high-risk behaviour, the shortage of personnel for prevention and control efforts, and the shortage of funding due to foreign sponsors’ aid reduction.

In the national strategy for ending AIDS by 2030, Vietnam targets to bring the number of newly detected HIV infections to under 1,000 each year, the fatalities linked with HIV/AIDS less than one per 100,000 people, and that HIV/AIDS will be no longer a public health concern.

A woman reads information about HIV/AIDS prevention and control. Photo: VNA

According to Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Head of the Vietnam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control, Vietnam's goal to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 means that by that time, the epidemic will no longer be a concern of any individual or the community, as it becomes a normal disease.

The number of cases falling below 1,000 a year and a death rate related to HIV/AIDS at below 1/100,000 would basically mark end the AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Long stated.

The recently approved law amending and supplementing certain articles of the law on HIV/AIDS prevention and control by the National Assembly on November 16, which is scheduled take effect from July 1, 2021, is expected to create a favourable legal corridor for HIV/AIDS prevention and control activities, aiming to end the epidemic by 2030.

Long emphasised that the results achieved and lessons learned during the past 30 years in HIV/AIDS prevention and control, along with the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control have just been approved by the Prime Minister, will offer good opportunities for Vietnam to eliminate the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Ngoc Diu