AIDS Cases in Vietnam Increased by Nearly 25% Last Year
The number of Vietnamese with AIDS increased by 24.1% in 2001, while AIDS-related deaths in Vietnam rose by 22% last year, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 1/3). The Vietnamese Ministry of Health estimates that 120,000 citizens of 76 million are HIV-positive. Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health state that intravenous drug users represent 65% of all reported HIV and AIDS cases, while nearly 25% of all IV drug users in Vietnam are HIV-positive. More than 4% of Vietnamese female sex workers are infected with HIV, an eightfold increase since 1994. Between 1994 and 2001, HIV infection rose tenfold among pregnant women and tripled among tuberculosis patients. The World Health Organization estimates that annual AIDS-related deaths among 15- to 49-year-olds will rise to 11,000 by 2005. Dr. Laurent Zessler, a UNAIDS representative in Hanoi, said that the AIDS epidemic could easily become "extremely serious" in Vietnam, adding that he does not feel the Vietnamese government is "acknowledging the full magnitude of the problem." Zessler said that schools should offer more HIV prevention education and the government should increase access to condoms, especially among sex workers. Condoms should be made available at bars, clubs and brothels, he said, adding that condoms are currently only available in family planning and health clinics. "It's really a political and organizational issue. We have the condoms here. They are quite cheap. But the decision has not been made to make them more available," Zessler said (Mozes, Reuters Health, 1/2).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.