Four thousand injecting drug users, women sex workers and men who have sex with men have been brought under an HIV prevention program begun a year ago by Life Center, an NGO that works with disadvantage groups.
Funded by USAID, the US$990,000 program also offers care and support for 2,000 people living with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho city and An Giang Province.
Reviewing the first phase of the two-year project, Nguyen Nguyen Nhu Trang, director of Life Center, said its results have been encouraging.
“The most important thing is that we have got community-based organizations to become actively involved in efforts to support at-risk groups and people living with HIV,” she said at a review conference in HCMC Friday.
With a network of 21 community-based organizations working actively in HCMC, Can Tho and An Giang, the project has identified, reached and provided HIV prevention services to 4,000 people, including 2,095 MSMs, 1,004 drug users, and 901 women sex workers.
More than 94 percent have been tested for HIV, with nearly 8 percent proving positive and being provided treatment.
“In the second year we will review all 6,000 people in the project to see if they have risk of HIV infection for further assistant on preventive measures,” Trang said.
Dr Ngo Thi Anh Dong of the Ho Chi Minh City HIV/AIDS Association with a man with AIDS at his home in the city. Photo: Minh Hung
“Meanwhile, we will connect with more people at risk of HIV in the community.”
Life Center and several community-based organizations in Ho Chi Minh City launched Friday a campaign called “Se ra sao, neu ban la toi?” (What if you were me?) to end discrimination against people living with HIV.
In Vietnam an estimated 259,000 people have HIV and live mainly in a few key populations with an average of 1,000 people getting infected every month.
The HIV prevalence in the general population aged 15-49 is 0.39 percent, according to World Health Organization estimates. The rate is 10.3 percent among people who inject drugs, 3.7 percent among MSM and 2.6 percent among women sex workers.
According to the Vietnam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC), actively supporting key populations to access HIV testing early and antiretroviral therapy (ART) as early as possible if HIV positive would significantly reduce new infections and AIDS deaths.
Besides, combining prevention interventions would further accelerate the impact of the interventions, it said.
In 2013 over 40 million condoms and 27 million needles and syringes were distributed.
At the end of that year 15,542 people were receiving methadone therapy and 82,687 adults and children were receiving ART, according to the VAAC.