Viet Nam announces nationwide rollout of PrEP

Associate Professor Phan Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control talks about the PrEP roll-out in Viet Nam.

On the eve of World AIDS Day 2018, Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health announced a national plan to scale up pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV. Under this plan for 2018–2020, PrEP will be made available to at least 7300 people in at least 11 provinces by 2020. With this announcement, Viet Nam becomes the 4th country in the Asia-Pacific region – after Thailand, Australia and New Zealand – and the second country in Asia to provide PrEP as part of a wider national approach. The national plan was supported by evidence from in-country trials implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Path Healthy Markets and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Dr Heather-Marie Schmidt, WHO/UNAIDS Regional PrEP Advisor for Asia and the Pacific, spoke to Associate Professor Phan Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control, about PrEP in Viet Nam.

Congratulations on the announcement that PrEP will be rolled out across 11 provinces in Viet Nam. What does this mean for people at substantial risk of HIV in Viet Nam?

Firstly, the implementation of PrEP services in Viet Nam, in accordance with WHO guidelines, aligns completely with the current context and HIV epidemic in Viet Nam. In recent years, the transmission of HIV in Viet Nam has changed significantly. Specifically, transmission through sexual behaviours is increasing, especially among men who have sex with men.

Viet Nam, in collaboration with WHO, UNAIDS and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is going to roll out PrEP services from 2 piloted provinces to 11 provinces across the country with financial support from international donors. It is estimated that the roll-out of PrEP services in these 11 provinces could target over 50% of key populations countrywide.

To achieve the target of 7300 people using PrEP by 2020, Viet Nam will work closely with WHO to provide PrEP services using local budget and socialization in other provinces that do not have international funding.

What do you think are the key factors allowing Viet Nam to roll out PrEP nationally?

Firstly: WHO recommendations; international scientific evidence; and the pilot results in Viet Nam showing no new HIV infections among 2000 clients who used PrEP in Ho Chi Minh city over the past 2 years. Read more via WHO