A nurse checks an HIV-positive patient in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang
Vietnam will stop providing antiretroviral, or ARV, treatment for free for HIV-positive people from next April, which risks more than 60 percent of them, who are not insured, giving up treatment, a health official was quoted in the media as saying Friday.
The move is prompted by the fact that international donors have been reducing their funding since April and would totally cut it by the end of 2017, Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Nguyen Hoang Long, chief of the Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Department, as saying.
Foreign aid allows Vietnam to treat 800-1,000 new people infected with HIV every month for free at the moment, he said.
Some 96,000 people get free ARV treatment, or less than half the HIV-positive population, a low rate compared to many other Southeast Asian countries where more than 90 percent get treatment, he said.
It costs around VND3-24 million ($136-1,100) a year to treat a person, and health insurance covers 80-95 percent of it.
More than 30 percent of HIV-positive people in Vietnam are insured, the official said, adding that authorities are looking for ways to help the rest buy health insurance by 2020.
Official figures show that 227,000 people in the country are infected with HIV, of whom a third have developed full-blown AIDS.
HIV/AIDS has so far claimed 74,442 lives.