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Viet Nam


Viet Nam is one of the countries in South-East Asia that achieved remarkable economic progress in the 1990s. The country has also reached a considerable stage of development with an average population growth rate of 2.0% and life expectancy at birth of 69 years (2003). However, Viet Nam's development success is currently being challenged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Since the first HIV-positive case was detected in December 1990 the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been developing rapidly and HIV/AIDS has become a significant health issue in Viet Nam. At the end of 2001, the estimated adult prevalence (age group 15-49) in Viet Nam was 0.3%. According to the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in Viet Nam for the period 2004-2010 with a vision to 2020, which has recently been approved, 76,180 HIV infected cases were identified as of December 2003. Of these cases, 11,659 are reported to have developed AIDS and 6550 people have died of AIDS nation-wide. The number of provinces reporting HIV/AIDS has increased every year. At present (2003), HIV is found in all of Viet Nam's provinces. It is estimated that by the year 2005, there will be 200,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam.

In 2002, as many as 62% of total HIV infected case reported were young people from age 20 to 29. In addition, Viet Nam has high HIV prevalence among sex workers, clients of sex workers and injecting drug users. At present, Viet Nam has a concentrated HIV epidemic, primarily transmitted through the sharing of needles during injecting drug use. An estimated 60% of all HIV infected cases are injecting drug users.

Informal internal migration is extensive, with Vietnamese sex workers and labourers working in both Cambodia and Lao PDR, as well as in other Asian countries. Those with highest vulnerability are debt-bonded Vietnamese women from the lower Mekong Delta provinces who work in brothels in Phnom Penh and provincial towns in Cambodia. Vietnamese migrant workers who do construction work on sites in Cambodia and the Lao PDR are also particularly vulnerable.

National Strategic Framework

The national strategic framework has been completed for 2001-2005. Priority action areas include: raising awareness on HIV/AIDS; strengthening institutional capacity to address the epidemic; improving the health system; and strengthening scientific research. Following the ongoing implementation of this framework the Government has just recently, in early 2004, approved the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in Viet Nam for the period 2004-2010 with a vision to 2020. The framework includes nationwide coverage and a monitoring and evaluation component. The framework is supported by various national policies on HIV/AIDS that have been developed since 1994.

National and local AIDS committees involving relevant sectors approve resources and oversee overall implementation. The AIDS Division and National AIDS Bureau of the Ministry of Health are the secretariat to the National Committee for AIDS, Drug and Prostitution Prevention and Control (NCADP), which is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. Throughout implementation of the strategic framework, the Government involves relevant sectors in the NCADP and has also received support from the UN system.

Despite political commitment and policy support for the framework, funding is still limited. Overall government budget is still recovering from the economic downturn in the late 1990s while at the same time the need for resources to address the growing demand for prevention and care activities is increasing.