A micro-finance project that will create jobs and income generation opportunities for HIV-infected and affected people as well as rehabilitated drug addicts was launched in HCM City on July 25.

The project will be implemented by the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) in partnership with Family Health International 360 (FHI 360) and the HIV Workplace Project with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The one-year project aims to help people living with HIV and former drug users, including those currently on Methadone maintenance treatment, to strengthen their economic development capabilities for better integration into the society and improve the quality of their life.

Around 70-100 individuals of the target group in three pilot districts of Binh Thanh, 4 and 8 in the city will benefit from the project, said Tran Van Tien, deputy director of VBSP's HCM City branch.

Each individual can take out a preferential loan worth 20 million VND (970 USD) at most, Tien said.

The loan will help them better contribute to the society in a sustainable way, and this would in turn, reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community as well as relapses among former addicts, said Wayne Wiebel, USAID Vietnam's senior HIV prevention and drug rehab technical advisor.

The bank will take over the project funding and mobilise additional potential sources from the Government to maintain the services in the following years.

A total of 9,513 former addicts, who are under supervision at localities in the city, are trying to integrate into society after returning home from rehabilitation centres, according to the city's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Five clinics in the city's districts 4, 6, 8, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc are providing methadone maintenance treatment to 989 drug users at present. /.