A project that seeks to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam by linking people most at risk with needed services was launched in Hanoi on January 27.

The "USAID Community HIV Link - Northern Coast" project will be carried out in the provinces of Nghe An and Quang Ninh as well as the port city of Hai Phong.

The main implementer of the three-year project that closes in July 2017 will be the Centre for Community Health and Development (COHED).

A press-release from the project sponsor, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said that "to contain current prevention and treatment activities, local civil society organisations (CSOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) must increase their contributions to the national HIV programme."

As such, it will mobilise and train a network of CBSs to reach out to at-risk populations and facilitate the latter's access to services like HIV testing and ARV treatment.

The project identifies key populations into four categories: those who have not been HIV tested for the last six months or do not report their HIV status; those who inject drugs and have not had a HIV test during the last six months; those who have never enrolled in an out-patient clinic for ARV treatment or enrolled but dropped out or not properly followed the treatment protocol; and primary sexual partners of the first two categories.

To build the capacity of CSOs and CBOs, the project will conduct capacity assessments, provide training and mentoring, and advocate provinces to involve the organisations in the process of formulating and issuing relevant policies for the localities.

The project will also support CSOs and CBOs in joining the existing national network by participating in events, meetings and other activities.

Dao Thi Mai Hoa, Director of COHED, said that the project aims to help CBOs and CSOs reach about 6,700 at-risk people and refer over 6,000 to HIV Testing and Counseling.

It aims to find over 600 new HIV cases and provide care and support services to more than 900 people living with HIV outside of the health facility.

It also targets "strengthening the capacity of at least 30 old and new CSOs and CBOs in the three project localities".

She said that the project will also help people living with HIV/AIDS by providing services in their own living environments.

Tran Viet Hung, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), said that the project offers a significant opportunity to continue national efforts to reach those most at risk and linking them with available resources.-VNA