More HIV-positive patients in Vietnam with higher T-cell counts will have access to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, according to the Ministry of Health.

Patients with a minimum of 500 CD4, or what is more commonly known as T-cells, will be able to access ARV drugs, the HCM City Committee for HIV/AIDS Prevention has said.

At a workshop held in the city last week, Tran Van Anh Phuong of the committee explained that HIV-infected patients were typically prescribed ARV drugs when tests show that the number of T-cells was at least 350. Higher T-cell blood counts are considered a better diagnosis.

She said that patients with HIV should use ARV drugs as soon as possible to prevent the progress of the disease as well as reduce the risk of transmission.

Phuong said the focus was currently on pregnant women, men who have sex with men, prostitutes, drug users and couples in which one has HIV and the other does not.

In the future, the city plans to use ARV drugs on all HIV patients regardless of the number of T-cells.
Testing of T-cells is expected to expand to create favourable conditions for people with HIV.

More and more people with HIV will have access to ARV therapy because the medicine's price has become inexpensive.

As of September, there were 46,990 people in HCM City infected with HIV, including 21,427 with AIDS. Of these, 9,476 have died.

In the first nine months of the year, 1,638 new HIV cases were reported, 137 less than the same period last year.

The corresponding number of new AIDS patients and fatalities were 1504 and 279, respectively, down 122 and 79, year-on-year. VNA