Ho Chi Minh City, Tuesday, May 29, 2018—Today at a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), and PATH revealed that nearly 1,200 people at high risk of HIV have enrolled in pilot oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programs in Vietnam in order to reduce their risk of infection.
PrEP is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs, which, if taken daily as prescribed, can reduce the risk of HIV infection for people who are at high risk (including men who have sex with men [MSM], transgender women [TGW], and the HIV-negative partners of those diagnosed with HIV) by 92 to 99 percent. WHO has recommended the use of PrEP for people at substantial risk of HIV since 2015, as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy that includes the use of condoms.
Since March 2017, pilot interventions supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project and UNAIDS through the Center for Applied Research for Men And Community Health (CARMAH) have made PrEP available to MSM, TGW and the HIV-negative partners of those diagnosed with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. These PrEP services are being provided by public outpatient clinics, private clinics (Thanh Danh, Galant, My Home, and The Light), and associated key population-led civil society organizations (CSOs).
“The preliminary results of these PrEP pilot interventions are very important, providing evidence for the Ministry of Health to include PrEP in the guidelines on HIV prevention and treatment which were issued according to the Decision 5418/QĐ-BYT dated on December 1, 2017. This document officially stated that pre-exposure prophylaxis by ARV drugs is one of the HIV prevention measures used in Vietnam,” declared Associate Professor Dr. Phan Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director of VAAC. “These results enable VAAC to collaborate with all partners to expand PrEP services, starting with 11 cities with a target of 5,610 PrEP clients by the end of 2019 and 7,300 by the end of 2020.”
“PrEP is a game-changer for Vietnam in its efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 goals,” said Mei Mei Peng, Deputy Director of USAID/Vietnam's Office of Health. “It is with a great sense of pride that USAID is able to support Vietnam, the second country to adopt PrEP in Southeast Asia, to expand options for people at risk of HIV to protect themselves and work toward HIV elimination.”
Most of the 799 MSM and TGW who participated in a 2016 PATH study in Vietnam both assessed themselves to be at high risk of HIV and declared a significant interest in taking and paying for PrEP, once available in country. “We’ve had significant interest in PrEP from our clients,” said Dr. Tran Le Viet Thanh from the Thanh Danh clinic, which is run by CSO and social enterprise, G-link. “People are excited to have a new tool for HIV prevention available to them. On the whole, our clients have demonstrated a high level of adherence, which is critical for PrEP to be most effective.”
For those already using PrEP in Vietnam, it has been an empowering and revolutionary experience. A PrEP client at the My Home clinic in Ho Chi Minh City spoke of the impact PrEP had made on his life. “My home clinic and its counselors gave me a weapon to protect against HIV infection—PrEP! Only one pill a day, and I feel much more protected. So thank you, PrEP—my daily friend!”
Following this promising start to PrEP in Vietnam, the workshop also looked to the future and how access to these services may be expanded.
“The commitment from all sides to make PrEP available to all those who need it is strong and clear,” said Dr. Kimberly Green, Chief of Party for the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project. “But this commitment can only be realized if PrEP can be sustainably financed. While some populations are able to pay for PrEP, others will need assistance through health insurance. A cost-effectiveness study conducted by USAID/PATH Healthy Markets and the University of Washington found that PrEP, if financed through social health insurance, would be cost-effective and could prevent 31,226 HIV infections and 7,296 AIDS-related deaths in Vietnam.”
International experts from WHO Geneva, the Thai Red Cross, and the New South Wales Department of the Australian Department of Health—the latter two being from countries where PrEP services have already been scaled up—shared global evidence and best practices that further demonstrated that PrEP is able to play a very important role in the prevention of new HIV infections.
For more information, please contact USAID/PATH Healthy Markets at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID leads the U.S. Government’s international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises. Following over 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID continues to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys. Please visit www.usaid.gov or follow https://www.facebook.com/USAID/ for more information. Vietnam specific sites are https://www.usaid.gov/vietnam and https://www.facebook.com/USAIDVietnam.
PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, we save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at www.path.org.
About Healthy Markets
The Healthy Markets project is a five-year initiative that aims to grow a viable market for HIV-related goods and services capable of meeting the needs of populations facing the greatest risks. Healthy Markets aims to improve the environment for private-sector and social-enterprise engagement and investment; increase demand for HIV-related goods and services; and generate a sustainable supply of quality HIV commodities and services that are accessible and affordable. By growing a market for HIV-related goods and services, Healthy Markets (1) contributes to improved sustainability and country ownership of the HIV response and (2) supports efforts to reduce the HIV incidence, including 90-90-90. Healthy Markets is funded by USAID and implemented by PATH in partnership with the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population and T&A Ogilvy. PATH works closely with manufacturers, distributors, private health care providers, pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, national- and local-level governments, social enterprises, and community-based organizations.