Vietnam Must Reduce HIV/AIDS Stigma, Address High-Risk Groups, Report Says
HIV/AIDS in Vietnam is "of manageable proportions," but programs to reduce stigma and transmission among groups at higher risk of contracting the virus must be implemented to prevent an epidemic, according to a Center for Strategic and International Studies report presented in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Friday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The report is the product of a January study tour led by former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Although HIV prevalence in Vietnam is below 0.5%, several cities, including Ho Chi Minh City and Haiphong, have an HIV prevalence greater than 1%. A Vietnamese newspaper last week quoted the health ministry as saying the percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women increased from 0.02% in 1994 to 0.37% in 2005, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. According to the report, HIV/AIDS in Vietnam is concentrated in three high-risk groups, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and injection drug users. MSM are an unmentionable subject in Vietnamese society, and sex workers and IDUs often are sent to prison, the report says. Fifty percent to 70% of incarcerated IDUs in Vietnam are believed to be HIV-positive, according to the report. "People living with HIV/AIDS are highly stigmatized in Vietnam, regardless of how they became infected," the report says, adding that this has "le[d] to reluctance to seek prevention, testing and treatment services." Poor prevention, treatment and testing in the country also are issues, the report says (Zeller, AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.