UN praises Hai Phong methadone clinic

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The United Nations praised the opening of the first methadone co-pay clinic in the northern city of Hai Phong, early this week.

The clinic, which opened last Saturday, was created as part of the country's ongoing campaign to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users.

On Tuesday, UN officials issued a statement urging Vietnam to expand its newwork of community-based methadone treatment clinics as part of a holistic approach to drug dependency and HIV.

"This latest initiative by the Hai Phong People's Committee will hopefully provide a model that can be applied in other parts of the country," said Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Vietnam Country Director and Chair of the Joint UN Team on HIV in Vietnam.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid, used medically as an analgesic and an anti-addictive for patients with opiod dependency issues. 

Methadone substitution programs reduce illegal drug use, crime, mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, according to the UN. 

The Hai Phong clinic is fundedby the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Vietnam.

Three similar clinics will open in Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho and Da Nang by the end of this year.

Vietnam plans to provide methadone treatment to 80,000 of the nation's estimated 150,000 drug users by 2015.

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