Vietnam will be the first country to pilot a new generation of HIV treatment initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) next year, the United Nations' agency announced in a press released issued Thursday.
The pilot will be launched at two provinces with the highest HIV burden with supports from WHO and the Joint United Nations Program for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Developed by WHO in cooperation with UNAIDS, the Treatment 2.0 initiative includes a more optimized drug regime for people living with HIV, cheaper and simpler diagnostic tools and a low-cost community approach to deliver, according to the press release.
Currently, 254,387 people are living with HIV in Vietnam, WHO said
The country's response to HIV has successfully expanded access to treatment in the past five years with 54% of the adult population in need receiving antiretroviral therapy, the agency noted.
However, most people living with HIV seek treatment too late when their immune system has weakened and opportunistic infections like tuberculosis have set in. In these cases, treatment is much less effective, resulting in increased deaths.
Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Vietnam Country Director, and Chair of the Joint UN Team on HIV in Vietnam, said in the statement that the initiative will "significantly reduce cost, further expand HIV programmes, mobilize communities to scale up HIV testing and treatment, reduce stigma and ultimately make the national response to HIV more sustainable."