USAID, PATH Work Together to End AIDS in Vietnam

USAID and global health nonprofit organization PATH partnered to boost understanding, awareness, and demand for HIV services and products among those most at risk in order to empower young people to prevent and manage HIV.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partner, PATH, celebrated the completion of the eight-year USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project and launched the new five-year USAID/PATH STEPS project at a Jun 14 event.

Vietnam also is one of the first countries in the world to apply the PrEP programme. Photo: Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control

The US$ 20.7 million USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project ran from 2014 to 2021 and was funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS ReliefFund (PEPFAR) in Vietnam.

Through the project, USAID and PATH worked with the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health, to generate sustainable approaches for increasing investment in, demand for, and supply of transformational HIV-related goods and services.

USAID/PATH Healthy Markets was a key partner to the Ministry of Health on its introduction and scale-up of new and innovative approaches like HIV community-based testing, self-testing, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)—three key services that contributed to a 57% reduction in new HIV infections over the past decade.

Vietnam also is one of the first countries in the world to apply the PrEP programme.

HIV self-test kits are now widely available through pharmacies and e-commerce, community-based testing services are being offered in 33 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, and PrEP has been scaled to 29 provinces.

Through Healthy Markets–supported models alone, nearly 218,000 people were tested for HIV in the community and 8,986 people newly diagnosed with HIV were enrolled on lifesaving treatment.

In addition, more than 46,000 HIV self-test kits were distributed and 16,700 people enrolled on PrEP, an oral pill that effectively prevents HIV infection when taken as prescribed.

USAID/Vietnam Deputy Mission Director Bradley Bessire speaks at the event in Hanoi.

Healthy Markets redefined the role of communities in the response, which is critical because key populations at risk for HIV–including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who inject drugs–often prefer to receive HIV and other health services from their peers in community settings.

Trusted within their community, they are able to offer tailored services in a non-judgmental environment and are playing a major role in increasing HIV case detection and reducing onward transmission.

Through Healthy Markets, Vietnam’s first-ever key population–led social enterprises and clinics were established and grown, and key population health providers were equipped with tools and skills to deliver integrated, person-centered HIV and primary health care services. Today, hundreds of key population–led organizations are at the forefront of cutting-edge HIV service delivery and demand creation in the country.

The project mobilized more than US$12.6 million in investment into the national HIV response by facilitating deep shared-value partnerships with more than 150 private-sector partners, including HIV goods manufacturers and suppliers, distributors and retailers, community service providers, and multimedia companies.

“Over the past eight years, USAID support addressed critical gaps in accessible, affordable, community-based HIV care while strengthening the domestic market for HIV-related goods and services, said USAID/Vietnam Deputy Mission Director Bradley Bessire.

He expressed his belief that their next project will focus on ensuring sustainability of the collective progress and addressing key remaining gaps to ultimately help Vietnam's healthcare sector achieve the national goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.

USAID launches new project to help Vietnam end HIV/AIDS by 2030.

USAID also took the occassion to announce a new five-year, US$15 million project in partnership with PATH and its partner, Glink Vietnam, to maintain the momentum of Healthy Markets and catalyze greater HIV- and primary health care-related market growth.

Given more than 95% of the current oral PrEP market is subsidized by international donors, a major focus of the project will be on increasing sustainable PrEP financing through a blend of commercial, public-financed, and free PrEP services.

The USAID/PATH Support for Technical Excellence and Private Sector Sustainability in Vietnam (STEPS) project will amplify access to integrated person-centered HIV and Primary Healthcare (PHC) services through innovative models of care; boost demand for and use of game changing health tools and technologies; and identify promising new public-private collaborative approaches that could significantly enhance the sustainable supply, delivery, and demand for HIV and PHC goods and services.

Combined, these efforts will support Vietnam to attain its epidemic control goals outlined in the National Strategy to End AIDS by 2030.

STEPS will catalyze community co-creation, VAAC governance and key population leadership, and targeted market and service delivery innovations to achieve these goals.

At the launch event, Associate Professor Phan Thi Thu Huong, VAAC director, acknowlegded USAID/PATH Healthy Markets' effort in accelerating innovative health solutions that significantly contribute to the HIV/AIDS response in Vietnam. "I trust that you will continue to maintain your momentum and the inspiring energy moving into the new USAID/PATH STEPS project."

(vietnamtimes.org.vn)