Patients with HIV wait for ARV treatment at a Community Consultation and Assistance Centre in HCM City (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Deputy Director of HCM City’s Department of Health Nguyen Huu Hung has instructed city districts to speed up the opening of new general health care clinics for patients with HIV.

International aid agencies will stop offering free ARV medicine in the country for patients with HIV next year.

Insured anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV patients will begin in June next year once international aid stops, according to the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control.

Seventy-two percent of patients with HIV have health insurance, Hung said, adding that the city People’s Committee had approved funds for the remaining 27 percent of patients with HIV who cannot afford cards. 

“Who will treat them? How will we carry out?” Hung said. “This is the issue to which we should pay more attention.”

Many representatives of district-level health centres have complained that they have not been able to set up a general clinic because of a shortage of doctors.

Dr Pham Thi Kim Hoa, head of Can Gio district Health Centre, said there were not enough available staff to set up the clinics.

Around 110 patients with HIV are being treated at the district’s Community Counselling and Assistance Centre, Hoa said, adding that the centre has sent eight of the 110 patients with HIV to the district’s health stations.

The remaining patients with HIV have been sent to the district hospital for treatment, but the hospital has not provided treatment, even though the city’s Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention has provided training to the hospital’s doctors.

Dr Phan Thanh Phuoc, head of the District 2 Health Centre, suggested that instead of general health clinics, the department should allow district-level hospitals to set up a satellite department for ART treatment under health insurance.

The Health Department plans to merge all district-level hospitals and health centres by 2020 in order to solve the shortage of doctors and ensure treatment for patients with HIV with health insurance.

Thu Duc and Hoc Mon district hospitals and health centres will be the first to merge this year.

Dr Tieu Thi Thu Van, head of the city’s Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention, said that interruption in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for patients with HIV/AIDS raised the risk of spreading the virus in the community.

This could lead to a failure to achieve the UN’s 90-90-90 goals by 2020. The goals are to have at least 90 percent of all people with HIV know their status and 90 percent receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART). The goals call for 90 percent of all people receiving ARV therapy to be eventually diagnosed with viral suppression.-VNA