Vietnam striving to increase PrEP use among high-risk groups

Vietnam is striving to have about 30 percent or 60,000 people in the community of men who have sex with men (MSM) using Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) service by 2025, and the rate is hoped to increase to 40 percent by 2030, said a health official.

Illustrative image. Source: Internet

A workshop recently was jointly held by the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the USAID PATH Healthy Markets project in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3, according to VNA.

Speaking at the event, Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Director of the VAAC, said Vietnam has achieved remarkable achievements in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS when the rate of HIV carriers in the community has been controlled below 0.3 percent, and the number of new cases and deaths from AIDS has also gradually decreased every year.

However, he noted that the rate of those tested positive for HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) have rapidly increased in recent years, to over 10 percent at present from only about 2 percent in 2010.

Vietnam is one of the first countries in the world to apply the PrEP programme. It is providing the service for more than 10,000 customers in the country.

Nearly 13,000 people living with HIV nationwide have been provided with PrEP service over the last two years, helping to control HIV infections in the community.

PrEP helps to reduce between 95-98 percent of the risk of infecting HIV in the community, Long said, adding that the community's response to PrEP has been very positive.

Vietnam is striving to have about 30 percent or 60,000 people in the MSM community using PrEP by 2025, and the rate is hoped to increase to 40 percent by 2030, Long said.

Lopa Basu, a senior technical advisor from the USAID, attributed the success of the programme to strong global campaigns and diversification of services, saying that the PrEP service has been providing in public, private and community clinics.

The USAID is committed to continue cooperation with Vietnam in realising its AIDS elimination goal by 2030, she said.

Since 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly recommended PrEP as an additional prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV. The programme was launched for the first time in Vietnam in early 2017 and now it is implemented in 26 provinces and cities nationwide.

In August, the Prime Minister has issued a decision approving the National Strategy on putting an end to AIDS in 2030.

The strategy aims to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention and control activities, reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, erase AIDS epidemic in 2030 and minimiseimpact of HIV/AIDS on the socio-economic development.

In 2030, the rate of high-risk people accessing HIV prevention services is expected to reach 80 percent, and that of people living with HIV knowing their conditions, 95 percent.

At the same time, the scheme also aims for 95 percent of HIV carriers to receive antiretroviral (ARV) drug. Mother-to-child infection is expected to be wiped out in 2030.

Meanwhile, the HIV prevention and control capacity in the medical system at all levels will be enhanced, and the personnel and financial resources for the work ensured.

The strategy gives 11 major solutions to complete the goals, including those on offering treatment and care for people living with HIV.

Pham Thu