Health Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has asked provinces and cities nationwide to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention measures, especially improving the capacity of HIV/AIDS prevention centres.

Long made the request at a conference to review HIV/AIDS prevention work in 2011 and launch plans for 2012 in the northern province of Ninh Binh on January 4.

This year, localities should focus on education and communication campaigns to get high-risk people change behaviours, close monitoring of the epidemic and the treatment, and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, he said.

Provinces and cities must strive to provide 55 percent of people in the 15 to 49 age group with correct information on HIV/AIDS prevention and keep the rate of HIV carriers at under 0.3 percent by 2015, he added.

According to the Deputy Minister, in recent years, Vietnam has recorded decreases in the numbers of HIV-infected people, AIDS patients and deaths of the disease.

However, he noted that the epidemic still sees complicated developments as unsafe sexual relations, especially among gays, are increasing in some localities and people in remote areas are poorly aware of HIV/AIDS.

By September 2011, Vietnam reported 193,350 alive HIV carriers, including 47,030 AIDS patients. More than 51,300 people had already died of the disease./.