U.S. To Support Vietnam Pilot Methadone Program in 2008, Officials Say
The U.S. plans to support a pilot methadone program scheduled to launch next year in Vietnam that aims to reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users, U.S. officials announced Thursday in a paper presented at an annual donors' conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, AFP/Yahoo! News reports.
The U.S. will support the Vietnamese government and health groups in an "aggressive campaign" that targets at-risk populations, including IDUs, young people, and commercial sex workers and their clients, the officials wrote, adding, "Our main goal will continue to be on preventing, and providing care and treatment for people living with HIV." The paper said that over the next year, the U.S. will prioritize rehabilitation and treatment therapy for IDUs, as well as support pilot methadone programs at six sites to help reduce transmission of the virus.
The delegates also said the U.S. supports increasing treatment access with a goal of providing 22,000 HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs by next year. According to AFP/Yahoo! News, Vietnam has provided antiretrovirals to almost 12,000 people living with the virus. The delegates also called for political leadership to reduce stigma and discrimination. They added that "experience from many countries has demonstrated that reducing stigma and discrimination" of HIV-positive people is a "critical factor in fighting the epidemic" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/6).