The capital city of Hanoi is aiming to widen its methadone treatment programme for drug addicts, as it is seen as an effective method in preventing HIV/AIDS.

The municipal Department of Health commented that after three years of implementation, methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) has helped reduce patients’ heroin use and the risks of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C infections.

The programme has also reduced the number of drug-related crimes and increased employment prospects for patients after treatment, it added.

In addition, positive changes have also been seen in behaviours that pose risks of HIV infections among patients engaging in methadone treatment.

Among those who were under treatment of between 12-24 months, only 2.5 percent continued to share their needles. No patient did the same act after they were treated for two years.

Especially, the rate of patients who got jobs after treatment ranged from 71 to 76 percent.

The municipal health sector is designing a master plan on MMT until 2020, with the aim of having 32 clinics providing treatment to 8,000 patients in the next seven years.

The MMT programme is being piloted on 1,453 patients in six districts across the city. There have been no reported deaths from side effects or overdosing from the treatment. The rate of patients still tested positive to heroin is low, at 2.4 percent.

Hanoi now has more than 21,000 controlled and about 10,000 uncontrolled drug addicts. The numbers of living HIV-infected people and AIDS patients are over 20,500 and nearly 5,300 respectively.-VNA