PATH, USAID, and Vietnam's Ministry of Health launch PrEP program to substantially reduce new HIV infections as total PrEP service enrollment passes 2,000.
Ho Chi Minh City, November 30, 2018—On the eve of the 30th World AIDS Day, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MOH), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and global health non-profit organization PATH, announced the nationwide launch of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services for HIV prevention in Vietnam.
PrEP allows people who do not have HIV but are at substantial risk of infection to prevent HIV by taking a pill every day, as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy. If a HIV-negative person uses PrEP, their chance of contracting HIV through unsafe sex or injection drug use decreases, as the medication will work to prevent the virus from establishing a permanent infection. PrEP is extremely effective when taken correctly, and is proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 92 percent or more. Since 2015, the World Health Organization has strongly recommended PrEP as an additional prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV.
“International guidance, plus the in-country evidence generated from pilot programs led by the MOH and implemented by the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project and UNAIDS, shows that PrEP is an effective method for HIV prevention for those most at risk of HIV. This is why Vietnam has established and will implement the national plan for PrEP for 2018-2020, making PrEP available for at least 7,300 people in at least 11 provinces by 2020,” stated Associate Professor Phan Thi Thu Huong, the vice director of Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC). This important step makes Vietnam the second country in Asia, after Thailand, to roll out PrEP nationwide. "We will take good care of PrEP users by providing them with sufficient information about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and will also aim to negotiate with PrEP providers to reduce the treatment cost so people who are in need can more easily access PrEP.”
VAAC, USAID, and PATH launched pilot PrEP services (Prepped for PrEP—P4P) in 2017 through the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project. The USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project has worked with community groups led by people at risk of HIV, provincial MOH leaders, commercial sector partners, and private and public outpatient clinics to provide PrEP for 1,967 people at high risk of contracting HIV—men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women (TGW), and the HIV-negative partners of people living with HIV who are not viral load suppressed—in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. PrEP was also made available through a pilot project run by UNAIDS.
“The launch of PrEP through P4P in June 2017 made a critically important HIV prevention tool available to those most at risk in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi,” said Dr. Kimberly Green, chief of party for Healthy Markets. “This pilot was only possible due to a strong partnership between civil society organizations, social enterprises, and private clinics led by MSM, TGW and people living with HIV, along with local health leaders, public outpatient clinics, and commercial partners including Gilead Sciences, Reliv/Mylan, and Abbott. The national scale-up of PrEP is essential to dramatically bending down the curve of new HIV infections in Vietnam.”
Guests at the launch also heard from community leaders, PrEP providers and users, and private sector partners who participated in a symbolic commitment to the future of PrEP in Vietnam, along with leaders of the VAAC, provincial Centers for Disease Control, USAID, and PATH.
“Since 2017, we’ve enrolled 635 people on PrEP at our clinic,” shared Dr Tran Le Viet Thanh, from G-link Clinic. “The retention rate—people that continue to take PrEP over time—is high, as we support people to integrate the medication regimen into their daily lives. I have no doubt that PrEP is already saving a lot of lives in Vietnam and so I am very happy to see it will be available to many more people who need it, very soon.”
“I’ve been on PrEP for nearly a year. I feel very happy and secure with this wonderful choice,” said Tuan, an office worker in Ho Chi Minh City. “Many of my friends are jealous because PrEP isn’t available yet where they live—they will be very happy to hear about the national expansion of the service! I hope a lot more people will now consider and try PrEP to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project has also worked with the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and PEPFAR partners to support the VAAC to develop a comprehensive package of national policies, guidelines, and training materials that will support the scale up of PrEP. Roll-out will begin in nine provinces in 2019 before expanding to eleven provinces in 2020.
“The nationwide launch of PrEP in Vietnam has been a long-standing goal of PEPFAR and USAID,” said Mary Tarnowka, U.S. Consul General. “We are extremely appreciative of the Ministry of Health’s commitment to this truly catalytic approach to HIV prevention, and its ability to lead the way in HIV innovation. By working together with USAID to introduce and now roll-out PrEP nationwide, the 2030 HIV elimination goals are one step closer.”
The national launch of PrEP services in Vietnam was hosted by VAAC, in coordination with USAID, and PATH. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. Government works closely with the MOH; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and others to develop a long-term, sustainable program to support the Vietnamese government to scale up activities for HIV prevention, treatment, and eradication.
For more information, please contact The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control, Ministry of Health or USAID/PATH Healthy Markets.
The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC)
The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (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, directing and management of the implementation of HIV programs across the country. Please visit http://vaac.gov.vn/ for more information.
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 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 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.