Ho Chi Minh City, November 27, 2019—Since the one year anniversary of the nationwide launch of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program in 11 provinces in Vietnam, the country is ready to roll out the program more widely due to global PrEP successes in reaching epidemic control for HIV. At the One-year PrEP Implementation Review Forum today, the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) presented a review of the PrEP program’s progress to date and announced its expansion to an additional 15 provinces across Vietnam, as part of the country’s commitment to ending HIV by 2030. The event brought together nearly 300 people, including representatives from the VAAC; the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Coordination Office; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the World Health Organization (WHO); The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; global health non-profit organization PATH; program partners; key population organizations; and the media.
In June 2017, VAAC, together with USAID/PATH Healthy Markets and UNAIDS kicked-off the first PrEP pilot in Vietnam in two cities: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Learnings from this pilot highlighted the demand for differentiated service delivery among key populations in order to ensure access to a range of PrEP service options in both the public and private sectors. These diverse models were incorporated into the nationwide scale-up implementation of PrEP—launched in November 2018 in 11 PEPFAR-supported provinces based on decision 5866/QĐ-BYT issued by the Ministry of Health on the PrEP Plan 2018-2020 on September 28, 2018.
Since PrEP was first initiated in 2017, more than 6,000 people have enrolled, with 3,946 newly enrolled in fiscal year 2019. “This clearly demonstrates there is a demand for PrEP in Vietnam,” said Dr. Phan Thi Thu Huong, the Vice Director of the VAAC. “We are excited to expand access to PrEP to 15 additional provinces and cities. Along with The Global Fund’s non-refundable assistance to support Vietnam’s response to HIV/AIDS among the MSM community in 2019-2020, we can enable greater access to and uptake of PrEP for those that are at highest risk of HIV.”
Even though PrEP use is increasing in Vietnam, many more people need to have access to it for there to be population-level impact in reducing HIV incidence. “Moving forward, we will assist the VAAC and our implementing partners in further boosting demand creation and in ensuring that PrEP clients get the support they need to stay on PrEP” said Ms. Ritu Singh, USAID Vietnam Health Office Director. “We congratulate the VAAC on its stellar leadership in scaling PrEP to 15 additional provinces and cities across Vietnam, and we look forward to continue to support this important work to accelerate epidemic control.”
When taken correctly, PrEP is one of the most powerful tools to prevent transmission of HIV infection. In 2014, WHO recommended offering PrEP to men who have sex with men (MSM). Based on the effectiveness and acceptability of PrEP, WHO expanded this recommendation beyond MSM in 2015 to include PrEP for all people at substantial risk of HIV. Key population groups at substantial risk of acquiring HIV in Vietnam include MSM, transgender women, people who inject drugs and the HIV-negative sex or injecting partners of people living with HIV who are not virally suppressed. “PrEP is a powerful tool in terms of enabling population-level epidemic control,” reflected Dr. Kimberly Green, Global Director for HIV and tuberculosis at PATH, “but it is much more than that. On the individual level, it is transforming people’s lives by enabling greater intimacy, quality of life, and peace of mind for those at risk of acquiring HIV.”
Social enterprise Glink has been involved from the beginning; it provided PrEP under the pilot study, and since the program launched nationally has enrolled more than 1,500 people on PrEP “It’s great! The expanded PrEP program means PrEP will be even more available and accessible to people who need it most, but it is also an exciting opportunity for key population-owned health care clinics,” said Le Minh Thanh, CEO and founder of Glink. Glink, which began as a support group for MSM in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009, saw the chance to grow a successful socially-minded business and has since established five clinics nationwide. “The USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project has facilitated an enabling environment for community-led clinics to offer PrEP in a way that meets the needs of those looking for the three C’s: convenience, confidentiality, and comfort,” said Minh Thanh.
The Review Forum was hosted by the VAAC, in coordination with USAID/PATH Healthy Markets. The roll-out of PrEP services to 15 new provinces in Vietnam will be supported by the U.S. Government, the Global Fund, and the Government of Vietnam.
For more information, please contact the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control, Ministry of Health, or USAID/PATH Healthy Markets.
Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control
The VAAC is a department within the Ministry of Health that assists the Minister of Health in government management and implementation of legal policies, specifically to supervise the planning, direction and management of the implementation of HIV programs across the country. Please visit http://vaac.gov.vn/ for more information.
The US Agency for International Development
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 more than 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 a global organization that works to accelerate health equity by bringing together public institutions, businesses, social enterprises, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. With expertise in science, health, economics, technology, advocacy, and dozens of other specialties, PATH develops and scales solutions—including vaccines, drugs, devices, diagnostics, and innovative approaches to strengthening health systems worldwide. Learn more at www.path.org.
USAID/PATH 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 high-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 HIV incidence, including the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment target. Healthy Markets is funded by USAID and implemented by PATH in partnership with the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population. PATH works closely with manufacturers, distributors, private health care providers, pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, national and local governments, social enterprises, and community-based organizations.