World Bank to Help Fund Establishment of New Blood Screening Centers in Vietnam
Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong on Monday ratified an agreement with the World Bank that will establish four regional blood screening centers to decrease the risk of transmitting HIV and other viruses through the country's blood supply, Agence France-Presse reports. Under the agreement, the World Bank will provide $38.2 million of the $48.12 million needed for the five-year project, with the Vietnamese government supplying the remainder. The
centers -- to be located in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Can Tho -- will screen blood for 180 hospitals in 21 Vietnamese provinces using international standards. Officials said they hope to eventually take the program nationwide. According to government statistics released earlier this month, 50,000 Vietnamese people are HIV-positive. However, many observers say that the actual number of cases is "far higher" because of the country's large sex industry and high prevalence of injection drug use; U.N. officials estimate that at least 120,000 Vietnamese are HIV-positive. The World Health Organization last week cautioned that HIV could "spread rapidly" in Vietnam because of "widespread ignorance" about the disease and sexual health among young people (Agence France-Presse, 7/17).
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