Vietnam Population Policy Should Highlight Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS Initiatives, Official Says
Le Thi Thu, minister of Vietnam's Committee for Population, Family and Children, on Friday at a meeting marking World Population Day called for the nation to work together to implement a population policy, including HIV/AIDS initiatives and reproductive health care for adolescents and pregnant women, BBC News reports. The government should focus on developing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policies, in addition to raising awareness about contraception and providing medical services in inaccessible areas. Le said that population growth in Vietnam could impede the plan's implementation, according to BBC News. The number of women who reach reproductive age each year is three times higher than the number of women who are outside of that age range (BBC News, 7/11).
USA Today Profile
USA Today on Monday profiled HIV/AIDS initiatives in Vietnam, which is the only country outside of Africa and the Caribbean eligible for funds under the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Sternberg, USA Today, 7/12). Although there are currently about 200,000 HIV-positive people in Vietnam, some analysts predict that number could increase eightfold to one million people by 2010. Senior Bush administration officials said that the administration "considers that Vietnam is a place where the American people's money can really make a tremendous impact because it is on the brink of a very explosive epidemic" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/9). According to Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam is concentrated among high-risk groups such as injection drug users and commercial sex workers. Currently, fewer than 300 of the approximately 130,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Vietnam receive treatment, and there is only one doctor for every 11,250 HIV/AIDS patients in the country. With the additional $10 million in funding from PEPFAR, Vietnam plans to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to more patients nationwide; establish prevention, treatment and care programs in walled rehabilitation camps where tens of thousands of commercial sex workers and drug addicts -- half of whom are HIV-positive -- are "warehoused"; and enlist several faith-based organizations to become active in HIV/AIDS initiatives, according to USA Today. Tobias said that the United States will not finance needle-exchange programs in Vietnam. Tim Brown, senior fellow at the East-West Center, in Bangkok on Sunday criticized the administration's restriction on needle exchange programs as well as its reluctance to promote condom use (USA Today, 7/12).