A woman with HIV receives antiretroviral drugs at a Health Centre in District 11’s community counselling and support division. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - HCM City is expected to treat nearly 4,000 people with HIV/AIDS who have health insurance cards in the first quarter of next year, following the cessation of free treatment for all such patients in the country, according to the city HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre.

For patients who do not have health insurance, they will continue to receive free medicine at health facilities where they are being treated, said Dr Van Hung, the centre’s Deputy Director.

Forty health facilities that provide HIV treatment have signed contracts with the city-based Vietnam Social Security to accept health insurance.

These facilities belong to city- and district-level hospitals, as well as health centres’ community counselling and support divisions.

Dr Nguyen Trung Hoa, Director of the Go Vap district Health Centre, said that it would be providing counselling and tests as well as treatment for people with HIV/AIDS.

In the first quarter of the year, the centre conducted 14,981 examinations for people with HIV/AIDS, including 8,614 exams for people who had health insurance this year.

The centre has provided antiretroviral drugs to 1,481 people with HIV.  More than 1,300 people with HIV/AIDS treated at the centre have health insurance, accounting for 88.5 percent of the total.

Dr Kim Chi Na, head of the Health Centre in District 11’s community counselling and support division, said that it was now treating more than 2,700 people with HIV/AIDS.

The division admits 70 new cases with HIV each month, Na said, adding that most of them are from other provinces. The division has only two doctors, but only one doctor is allowed to examine 65 people per day under national healthcare regulations.

The division needs to employ more doctors so that it will comply with the regulation next year when it begins providing treatment to people with HIV/AIDS.

However, because of a shortage of funds, more doctors cannot be hired, Na said.

HCM City has one private general clinic, Galant, in District 5, to treat people with HIV/AIDS under health insurance coverage.

Charity health facilities which provide treatment to people with HIV/AIDS have been upgraded to meet the insurance coverage criteria of the Vietnam Social Security.

Nearly 10 per cent of people with HIV/AIDS do not have health insurance.

The municipal People’s Committee plans to use its budget to help them buy health insurance cards as soon as possible.

“The city aims to treat all people with HIV/AIDS under health insurance coverage by the end of 2019,” Hung said.

Luu Thi Thanh Huyen, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Social Security’s HCM City branch, said the agency would closely work with the city’s Department of Health to ensure health care services for people with HIV/AIDS during the change of treatment from free coverage under a national programme (that received funds from international donors) to health insurance coverage.

The Ministry of Health said that insured people who use health care services related to HIV/AIDS will receive antiretroviral drugs, HIV tests and other services, and insured pregnant women with HIV will also receive treatment.-VNS/VNA