National meeting on the occasion of 2018 National Action Month on AIDS and World AIDS Day

Your Excellency Madame Nguyen Thi Kim Thien, Minister of Health and Vice Chair of the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control,

Your Excellency Mr Huynh Cach Mang, Vice Chair of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City,

Madame Mary Tarnowka, Consul General of the United States for Ho Chi Minh City

Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends,

On behalf of the United Nations Joint Team on HIV in Viet Nam, it is a great honour and pleasure to join World AIDS Day national celebration this year in Ho Chi Minh City, one of the global fast track cities leading by example for the AIDS response and, at the end of another year of significant progress for Viet Nam’s AIDS response.

As part of the world AIDS day campaign and Viet Nam action month on AIDS, we encourage everyone to know his/her HIV status. Testing always helps and it saves lives. The earlier the test and, if needed the treatment, the better to stay healthy and productive and in addition, contribute to stopping the virus from spreading further. And if the test is HIV negative, it is a way to learn about HIV and prevention but also about other health issues and seek treatment for those as needed.

In 2018, Viet Nam has kept its promise again and turned commitment into action on HIV with much progress towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets by 2020.

The national AIDS response is on the eve of making another historic step as for the first time HIV treatment will be provided and reimbursed by the Social Health Insurance (SHI) from January 2019 and a high number of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) on HIV treatment benefit from SHI with integrated health benefits well beyond HIV. I wish to sincerely appreciate all the intense work done by the Viet Nam Authority for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC), other colleagues from the Ministry of Health, Viet Nam Social Security, Provincial AIDS Committees (PAC) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heath facilities and the PLHIV community with dedicated support from development partners to prepare for this major transition towards sustainable quality and affordable treatment as part of universal health access.

This year, we are also celebrating the 10 years of the Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) programme which has been very successful and effective to reduce new infections among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID), allow many people to enjoy a more stable and safe life and contribute to society. It has been a major pillar of the national AIDS response and its impact so far is impressive. We look forward to discussions on how to further expand it with more innovative approaches and complement it with interventions to address Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use with a human rights-based approach.

This year again, many innovative approaches have been successfully embraced and are now expanding bringing more options for people to more easily access friendly HIV services including community-based testing, self- testing, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), more flexible services for MMT, needle & syringes, viral load testing and support for a zero stigmatization and zero discrimination environment.

Indeed, against a smart virus and with only 2 years left to go to achieve the committed national and global targets by 2020 and 12 years to the 2030 Goal of ending AIDS, we cannot afford any complacency or losing time.

Many challenges remain in terms of rising new infections among some populations, gaps in and need to revitalize prevention which remains key to achieve the end of AIDS and transition to SHI and into the general health system as part of Universal Health Coverage while human resources dedicated to HIV are shrinking. Many people, including those behind bars, still lack access to HIV services and face stigma and discrimination. However, we know, from almost 30 years, that strong political commitment, leadership, targeted investments, a conducive legal and policy framework and a strong partnership makes an enormous difference and impact.

Let’s continue keeping the promises and turn them into action, in Ho Chi Minh City and in every province and city in Viet Nam even in areas where HIV may seem low but needs to be kept under control to avoid it bouncing back. With sufficient and timely domestic and external investments in the right combination of interventions supported by legal framework that enables communities in need to access the services, let’s keep Viet Nam on the right track towards the 90-90-90 and ending AIDS.

On this World AIDS Day, we give a special thought to all the people lost to AIDS in Viet Nam and worldwide. We also appreciate the long and new champions, young and less young, all across Viet Nam who work really hard to protect others from HIV, provide quality treatment, care and support and stand up to reduce stigma and discrimination. With everyone’s contribution, we can leave no one behind!

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has urged us on other occasions to “achieve the 90-90-90 targets, with 100-100-100% commitment and even more”. Let us continue Viet Nam’s strong tradition of solidarity and keep our promise to achieve the 90-90-90 target, towards ending AIDS by 2030.

Viet Nam Vo dich!

Xin cam on va chuc suc khoe!

 

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Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam