President Bush To Tour Vietnam’s Pasteur Institute, Discuss HIV/AIDS Issues
President Bush this week is scheduled to visit the Institut Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to learn about the institute's HIV/AIDS and avian flu research and discuss Vietnam's prevention and awareness efforts for both diseases, the AP/CNN International reports (Mason, AP/CNN International, 11/15). Officials with the U.S. and Vietnam's Ministry of Health in January signed an action plan for 2006 through 2008 covering HIV/AIDS-related programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. According to a joint press release issued earlier this year by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the health ministry, Vietnam's PEPFAR-funded programs aim by 2008 to provide antiretroviral drugs to 22,000 HIV-positive people and to provide care for 110,000 people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in the country. PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries, including Vietnam. According to the health ministry, about 263,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the country, but only 103,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported. The government aims to reduce the country's HIV/AIDS prevalence to below 0.3% by 2010. PEPFAR in 2005 provided $27 million to Vietnam for HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/20). According to Nancy Fee, UNAIDS country coordinator, about 15%, or 5,500, of people in need of antiretroviral treatment in Vietnam have access to it, compared with less than 5% of people in need of treatment two years ago. Bush will tour the Institut Pasteur after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi (AP/CNN International, 11/15).
Vietnam Seeking WHO Certification To Produce Antiretrovirals
In related news, the Vietnamese health ministry is negotiating a deal with the World Health Organization to develop antiretrovirals in the country. According to the Vietnam News, the deal is part of the ministry's efforts to reduce antiretroviral treatment costs to $1 per person daily and increase the number of HIV-positive people receiving treatment to 70% by 2010. Duong Quoc Trong, head of the HIV/AIDS prevention department in the health ministry, said that although Vietnam has the capacity to develop antiretrovirals, the country has not received WHO certification (Vietnam News, 11/16).