Vietnam on right track to eliminate AIDS in 2030 hinh anh 1PrEP is considered a breakthrough prevention method (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA)
- Over 12,000 people nationwide have registered to use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) service since its launch in 2017, helping to control HIV infections in the community, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The PrEP programme has been expanded to 27 provinces and cities nationwide, with appropriate adjustments made to better meet the needs of the target group.

The outcomes of the PrEP programme showed Vietnam is on the right track to eliminate AIDS by 2030.

In a report presented at a workshop held on November 5 in Hanoi, the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) said there has been a rapid increase in the number of people staying on the service or registering to use it despite the COVID-19 epidemic.

PrEP available in 27 provinces, cities

Over 12,000 people nationwide have registered to use PrEP service since the programme was launched in Vietnam in 2017.

In 2020, some 6,678 people registered for the service within the PATH Healthy Markets project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), up 3,946 people compared to the previous year.

PrEP is designed to help people who do not have HIV but are at substantial risk of contracting it, to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day, as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy. If someone who is on PrEP is exposed to HIV, the medication can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection. PrEP is extremely effective when taken correctly, and can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 92 percent or more.

It was firstly piloted in Vietnam in early 2017 as part of the Prepped for PrEP programme - a pilot programme coordinated by VAAC and the USAID PATH Healthy Markets project.

PrEP has attracted great interest from the target group, with an increasing number of people enrolling and staying on the service.

The national programme for PrEP for HIV prevention was expanded to 15 more provinces and cities from November 2019, making the service available in 27 localities nationwide with the support of the US Government, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Vietnamese Government.

The scale up of PrEP is essential to Vietnam being able to dramatically bend down the curve of new HIV infections.

Vietnam on right track to eliminate AIDS in 2030 hinh anh 2Transgender people are the main beneficiaries of PrEP service. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

USAID to maintain support for PrEP programme in Vietnam

VAAC deputy head Phan Thi Thu Huong said the agency has flexibly applied many solutions to ensure that the target group could continue to access essential health services, including PrEP in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme’s success to date has relied on intense demand generation campaigns and diversified offerings, such as the newly introduced event-driven PrEP (ED PrEP) option for men who have sex with men (MSM) and  PrEP availability at a range of clinics – public, private and key population-led and owned community clinics, she noted.  

ED PrEP is an effective PrEP dosage approach that offers additional choice, flexibility and convenience to MSM. It was approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in July 2019 and is now included in Vietnam’s revised PrEP guidelines.

ED PrEP offers an option to MSM to take PrEP only when they are at risk of HIV, rather than taking it every day.

Vietnam on right track to eliminate AIDS in 2030 hinh anh 3Ritu Singh, Director of USAID Vietnam Health Office (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Ritu Singh, Director of USAID Vietnam Health Office affirmed the commitment to supporting VAAC and partners in introducing new prevention strategies backed by reliable scientific evidence to ensure that PrEP clients get the support they need to stay on PrEP.

USAID looks forward to continuing partnership with Vietnam to realise this important work, she added.

The national PrEP programme has been developed on the basis of global best practices and studies on the demand of the target group.

Kimberly Green, PATH’s programme director for HIV, tuberculosis in Vietnam and Director of USAID’s PATH Healthy Markets project, said the project has supported community organizations to strengthen their capability in providing PrEP service, tailoring services to meet the need of the community.

It has also joined in designing client-oriented campaigns and events, and implemented rigorous quality improvement programmes, she added./.