Miss Universe Vietnam H’Hen Nie (centre) (Photo courtesy of the organiser)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Miss Universe Vietnam H’Hen Nie has called for reducing stigma and discrimination against HIV patients at the Miss Universe 2018 contest that is now being held in Bangkok, Thailand.

H’Hen Nie is participating in the United Nations’ Global Campaign on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) as part of the effort to create “a red ribbon wave” at this year’s beauty pageant. 

By wearing a red ribbon on her arms during the beauty event, which ends on December 17, H’Hen Nie is showing her support to the campaign.

“With support from the international community at the Miss Universe contest this year, I do believe in a more civilised attitude for the future of the community of HIV/AIDS patients,” she told Vietnam News.

The campaign, which marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day (December 1), aims to protect patients and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Since being crowned Miss Universe Vietnam last year, H’Hen Nie, who is from the E De ethnic group of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, has taken part in many social activities, especially those related to HIV/AIDS.

H’Hen Nie has also been involved in the U=U campaign (undetectable=untransmittable) funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The U=U statement has been recognised or endorsed by more than 782 medical and community-based organisations in more than 95 countries. 

The statement builds on evidence-based research demonstrating that HIV treatment is highly effective in reducing HIV transmission and that people living with HIV on ARV (antiretroviral) treatment with an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexual transmission.

Vietnam has consistently shown strong leadership in responding to HIV in the world and the region. 

In recent years, Vietnam has enhanced screening and testing for high-risk people to achieve the UN’s 90-90-90 goals in HIV prevention and control by 2020. 

Under the goals, by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. Ninety percent of people with a diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained ARV therapy, while 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. 

The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Vietnam continued to be under control this year, with a reduction in new incidences of HIV/AIDS and mortality from AIDS, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Speaking at a recent meeting to respond to World AIDS Day, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said more than 8,000 new HIV cases were detected every year in Vietnam.

“The country still has nearly 50,000 people with HIV who do not know their status. These are challenges which we still face,” she said.

The rate of HIV infection among users who inject drugs, especially among youth, has seen an upward trend, according to the ministry. 

Stigma and discrimination continue to be a major barrier for people living with HIV to access HIV services in the country.-VNS/VNA