Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will expand access to no-cost HIV/AIDS treatment for pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, city health officials said Saturday, Vietnam News Service/Viet Nam News reports (Vietnam News Service/Viet Nam News).
Health experts estimate that there are about 40,000 to 50,000 HIV-positive people in the city.
Although HIV prevalence in the country is below 0.5%, Ho Chi Minh City has an HIV prevalence greater than 1%, according to a Center for Strategic and International Studies report presented in July in Hanoi, Vietnam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/1).
According to the AIDS Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, 700 of the 100,000 pregnant women in the city in 2004 were HIV-positive.
In July 2005, Ho Chi Minh City's health department launched an HIV prevention program in the two main obstetric hospitals in the Tu Du and Hung Vuong provinces and in 24 health clinics in city districts, the VNS/News reports.
The program -- which is funded by Action AID; CDC; the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the city's People's Committee; the World Bank; UNICEF and World Vision International -- provides pre- and postnatal care, HIV follow-up tests, and free antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive pregnant women and their infants.
The program also aims to improve links between obstetric hospitals, children's hospitals and district health care centers to ensure effective care for pregnant women and their infants.
In 2005, 684 of the 133,622 pregnant women who received an HIV test were found to be HIV-positive, and, of those women, 90% received no-cost antiretrovirals and their infants received formula for six weeks at no cost, VNS/News reports.
Le Truong Giang, deputy director of the city's health department, said, "Results from the first year of the city's mother-to-child transmission disease prevention program shows that a [9% transmission rate by 2010] ... is feasible."
He added that the Ministry of Health is reviewing the program's efficacy to determine whether it should be applied to other provinces (Vietnam News Service/Viet Nam News).