U.S., Vietnamese Militaries Hold First-Ever Meeting To Discuss HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment
More than 100 senior Vietnamese military officials joined U.S. military officials in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, Reuters reports. The "unprecedented" meeting, which ended on Thursday, also included military representatives from Thailand, according to Reuters (Reuters, 4/15). The meeting was sponsored by the U.S. Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the U.S. Pacific Command, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Vietnam's Ministry of Health estimates that approximately 200,000 HIV-positive people live in the country, but only about 80,000 of them have been diagnosed, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. However, some experts say there could be up to 300,000 people in the country living with the disease, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/15). Although most of the HIV cases are among injection drug users and sex workers, the disease is "spilling over into the general population," according to the the AP/Las Vegas Sun. Lt. Col. Jerome Kim from the Hawaii-based Tripler Army Medical Center said that the meeting was meant to improve HIV/AIDS awareness among senior Vietnamese military leaders, the AP/Sun reports. He added that the meeting was a "recognition by the U.S. and Vietnamese governments that HIV/AIDS represents a significant problem for Southeast Asia in general." Kim said that because the United States views HIV/AIDS as a national security threat, prevention efforts among military personnel are part of U.S. policy, according to the AP/Sun. He said, "We've emphasized over and over that prevention is the easiest part of the fight against HIV/AIDS." Kim added that feedback from meeting participants has been "very, very positive" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 4/15). "We are looking forward to future work in a number of different areas of policy, laboratory science and counseling, and we hope to build on the success of this first conference," Kim said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.