1 December 2019
Eamonn Murphy
UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, Chair of the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitute Prevention and Control

Your Excellency Mme Nguyen Thuy Anh, Chair of the National Assembly Social Affairs Committee,

Your Excellency Mr. Duong Van Thai, Chair of Bac Giang Provincial People’s Committee,

Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends,

On behalf of UNAIDS joint programme, it is a great honour and pleasure to join this years’ World AIDS Day national celebration in Bac Giang, in the beautiful north of Viet Nam showing how the whole country remains committed to the national fast track targets and towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

During the 2019 national action month for World AIDS Day, the UNAIDS global report launched a few days ago shines a special light on the power of acting together, especially with communities at the centre, and appreciates every person’s contribution to make a difference against HIV. This overall effort – from grassroots communities to senior leaders and from all parts of society – has been a tremendous strength of the HIV response and remains critical for the future and to ensure leaving no one behind.

Thanks to strong leadership, commitment and action, Viet Nam managed to reduce new infections by 65% between 2010 and 2018, the most significant change in the Asia Pacific region. This year marks the historic milestone of 20 years of lifesaving HIV treatment with steady progress across the country. Viet Nam is also well known for its innovative approaches bringing more options for people to more easily access friendly HIV services including community led and self-testing, PrEP, OST including Methadone and now buprenorphine and their impressive expansion, which beyond saving lives and allowing people and communities to thrive, bring many lessons for other countries. In addition, much progress has been made towards sustainability with transition of HIV treatment under the Social Health Insurance scheme.

My warm personal congratulations for the achievements over the years including during 2019 that Viet Nam can clearly be proud of!

Here I wish to sincerely appreciate the leadership and hard work of the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, the National Assembly, 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), members of the National Assembly, heath facilities, hundreds of social organization and CBOs providing services, the PLHIV and key populations’ community, academia and development partners who have this year again contributed to small and big steps forwards on Viet Nam’s amazing journey towards the 90-90-90, fast track targets and ending AIDS as a public health threat.

Still, we know many challenges remain and complacency is not an option. The national data shows much progress but we know there are quite some gaps and disparities geographically and with still rising or high infections among some key populations. Stigma and discrimination remains high. Still about 40% of PLHIV do not yet benefit from ART. There are important differences in resources and services across provinces. Changing risks including new types of drugs putting people at multiple risk for HIV and other health issues. For some people such as people who use drugs, the legal environment remains quite punitive though we know public health and human rights-based interventions are proven to be more effective. The complex transition of HIV treatment to social health insurance requires a lot of adaptation for people and all this in a context of declining human and financial resources on HIV. The achieved gains need to be consolidated to avoid progress being threatened by a rebounding epidemic as we see in some other countries.

Today, we also have a special thought to the thousands of people we lost to AIDS over the years. Sadly, and despite all the options we now have to prevent new infections and provide effective treatment, mortality due to AIDS remains a reality. We need to change that including for people in prisons and detention. Outreach and community empowerment for HIV knowledge and services should and can be an entry point for broader health and social services and healthier and thriving communities.

Dear colleagues and friends,

The stakes remain high but 2020 brings unique and historic opportunities. Indeed, as Viet Nam is reviewing its HIV Law and developing its new national HIV strategy to shape the next decade, we hope they will be bold, ambitious, grounded in evidence, human rights and community intelligence. We hope they will embrace current and future people centered innovations, with solutions for everyone who still face exclusion to enjoy solidarity, dignity and fulfill his/her potential as well as ensure adequate human and financial resource investments to close the gaps and achieve our dreams of the end of AIDS by 2030.

Acting together with strong leadership, commitment and action leveraging everyone’s potential to make a difference – Parliamentarians, Government, communities of people living with and affected by HIV, along with peer educators, counsellors, community health workers, service providers, social organizations, private sector, development partners – new milestones can be achieved.

Acting together with solidarity and placing people at the center, Viet Nam can keep its promise and reach the 90-90-90 by 2020 and end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Acting together, Viet Nam can remain at the forefront for the HIV response in the region, sharing how to leave no one behind and share its experience with the world. This is such a tremendous force for change for HIV but also to demonstrate what is possible for Universal health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As Uncle Ho Chi Minh said, “without the people’s support, the easiest task may also fail; With the people joining hands, the most difficult task can still be fulfilled” … “Solidarity, solidarity, more solidarity – Success, success, more success success”

Thank you for everyone’s contribution. Please be assured the UN remains with you on this journey.

Xin cam on va chuc suc khoe!

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