HCMC marks progress in fighting HIV/AIDS

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Ho Chi Minh City has done well in containing the HIV/AIDS epidemic over the last several years given that the number of new HIV infections is falling and lives of people infected with the virus are being prolonged, according to a conference Saturday.

The number of new HIV cases in the city is 6,000 this year, much lower than the 10,000 in 2007, said Le Truong Giang, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Health told the conference.

The meeting was held to review the city's efforts to battle HIV/AIDS in the two decades since it reported the country's first case in 1990. The first patient, now 50, is still alive and healthy.

Giang said various measures like issuing injection needles to drug users, mobilizing them to use condoms, and using methadone to treat drug addicts have contributed to the effectiveness in fighting the AIDS epidemic.

He also said the city's treatment with anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs has prolonged lives of an estimated 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

Reports by the HCMC AIDS Prevention Committee announced at the meeting showed that the city has had more than 51,700 people test positive for HIV since 1990, of whom 8,410 died.

The committee estimates the city will have 33,000 new HIV cases in the next five years.

People having sex with prostitutes would account for the highest rate of these, following by drug users, sex workers, and men having sex with men, the committee said.

Currently, Vietnam has nearly 300,000 HIV-positive people.

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