A delegation of Vietnamese health officials has visited Thailand to learn the country’s experience in seeking financial resources and supplies of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment.

As part of cooperation between Vietnam and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the April 6 visit is expected to open up new directions for the treatment of AIDS patients in Vietnam .

ARV drugs are used to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. Huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering thanks to the use of a potent ARV regimen, particularly in early stages of the disease.

Thailand is seen as one of the big centres that produce and supply low-cost ARV drugs. The Thai Government has committed to ensuring the provision of cheap made-in-Thailand ARV drugs for over 300,000 patients both at home and abroad in the next two years.

According to UNAIDS, Vietnam has recorded great progress in fighting HIV/AIDS in recent years.

The latest data released by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health shows that 60,935 adults and children are now on antiretroviral treatment, accounting for 54 percent of all in need and representing a 22-fold increase since 2005.

However, the number of HIV-infected people who are drug users and gays still remains high in Vietnam and is expected to rise in the future.

At the same time, the country is facing a wide range of difficulties regarding the management of ARV supply chain and financial support for patients to purchase ARV drugs.

These difficulties were presented by the Vietnamese officials during their visit to get advice from Thailand , which has successfully carried out AIDS treatment through health insurance.

On this occasion, the delegation had a fact-finding trip to the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, a state enterprise specialising in producing and supplying anti-HIV/AIDS drugs with good quality and suitable prices in Thailand .

The international community has supported over 70 percent of Vietnam’s budget for HIV/AIDS treatment. However, the aid will be cut off in the coming time as Vietnam becomes a middle-income country.

To deal with the problem, the country will have to pay more attention to inner sources to access effective treatment.-VNA