Vietnam has seen a downward trend in the number of HIV cases but at a slowing pace in recent years, according to the Ministry of Health's Administration of HIV/AIDS Control.

In 2011, nearly 14,200 people were tested positive for HIV, a decrease by nearly 150 compared to the year 2010, according to statistics released on May 25.

The number in 2010 decreased by 1,800 compared with 2009, while the 2009 figure was more than 4,000 down from the previous year.

"The decreasing rate gets slower because the number of prostitutes using condoms is increasing while more heroin addicts adopt the habit of sharing injection needles despite the police and community efforts," said Le Hai Son, deputy head of the administration's Supervision and Evaluation Division.

Nearly 200,000 people in the country suffered from HIV by the end of March this year. More than 49,300 of them are currently living with AIDS with more than 52,600 having died of the disease.

As many as 90 percent of HIV patients are between 20 and 49 years old.

It is forecast that this year the number of HIV patients can re-increase in some cities and provinces such as Hanoi, HCM City, Son La, Thai Nguyen, Dien Bien and Nghe An, he said.

To improve HIV/AIDS prevention, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on May 22 signed an instruction, asking the Ministry of Health to preside over the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control to 2020 with a vision to 2030. The strategy envisions zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

An action month for mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention will be launched nation-wide on June 1.

Chu Quoc An, deputy director of the administration, said, "This is a chance to further raise awareness among people in general, women of child-bearing age and pregnant women in particular, of mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention and create opportunities for pregnant women to have early access to mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention services." .-VNA