Monday, January 30, 2012

The fight against AIDS in Vietnam

Huynh Nhu Thanh Huyen, Head of the SPN+ Management Board with some international friends
participate in a march in Vienna (Austria) to call people throughout the world to join
 hands to prevent and control HIV/AIDS.

The place where pain is eased

Those who once go to the center of consultation, medical examination and treatment for people infected with HIV/AIDS, will never forget the pain of these patients as well as the struggle and benevolence of the doctors and medical workers who witness the pain of the patients every day.

The Treatment-Education-Social Labour Center of Binh Phuoc Province in Minh Lap Commune, Chon Thanh District is currently caring for 256 people who are prostitutes or drug addicts. Of them 70 percent are infected with HIV/AIDS.

According to Vo Thi Mai, the center’s Deputy Director, people with HIV/AIDS are treated and provided with physical and mental care. Files on health management, periodical medical check-ups and treatment of infectious diseases for these patients are compiled. Severe cases are promptly transferred to hospitals.

They are provided with financial assistance for food and medicine and vocational training in accordance with their health condition. They can participate in artistic and sports activities, organized by the center, along with other people in the center.

Now the center is building a new facility in an area of 12ha in Hamlet 5 of Minh Lap Commune. This facility is expected to be completed in 2012 to improve the education and disease treatment activities of the center.

Doctor Tran Van Phuc, Deputy Director of the Medical Center and Deputy Head of the Management Board of the Global Fund Project on HIV/AIDS in Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province, said that since 2004 the medical center has had a system of health counseling and community rooms, a voluntary HIV testing laboratory and outpatient treatment rooms to serve the work of HIV/AIDS prevention and control.

The district has established a peer club which works actively and efficiently. Eight members of the club are in charge of the eight communes in the district.

The club not only has the task of propaganda and community education but also helps dozens of people infected with HIV/AIDS receive treatment with ARV drugs.

In the past year, the club in collaboration with the district Women’s Association collected 33 million VND to buy medicine, milk and sugar for HIV/AIDS patients in the region.
To help people infected with HIV/AIDS access counseling, care and treatment, the health sector in many cities and provinces throughout the country has established medical examination and treatment centers. Now the whole country has nearly 300 voluntary HIV counseling and testing rooms, over 400 facilities providing ARV drug therapy and over 70 treatment-education-social labor centers.

Thanks to these facilities, the sympathy, encouragement and consolation of the doctors and medical workers, HIV/AIDS patients in Vietnam have received good care and treatment, so they can withstand the pain of disease and find joy in life.

Society assists people infected with HIV/AIDS

While the health sector is trying to find solutions to prevent AIDS and cure people living with HIV/AIDS, the whole social community is also making great efforts to help them.

In 2003, an organization of people infected with HIV/AIDS, called “Southern Self-Support Groups Network of People Living with HIV” (SPN+) was established in Ho Chi Minh City.

Now this organization has 16 member groups who work effectively in such cities and provinces as Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An, Can Tho, Dong Thap and Kien Giang.

A special feature of this organization is that it also includes the volunteers who are students, doctors and relatives of the people infected with HIV/AIDS.

Talking with us, Huynh Nhu Thanh Huyen, Head of the SPN+ Management Board, said: “Upon learning that I was infected with HIV/AIDS, I was panic-stricken and my future seemed to collapse, because at that time, HIV/AIDS meant death and people with this disease were rejected by society. Fortunately, thanks to the encouragement and sharing of other people, I have overcome the panic.”

Huyen is a shining example of the energy to overcome misfortune. Putting aside her pain, she joined a training course on self-care at home for people with HIV/AIIDS and actively participated in many social activities.

It was Huyen who connected the self-support groups operating separately in Ho Chi Minh City to establish SPN+.

The main task of SPN+ is to enhance the self-care of each member, reduce the public’s discrimination and help each other to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.

Since its establishment, thanks to the concerns of organizations and society as well as the assistance of overseas projects, SPN+ has operated more effectively, helping people infected with HIV/AIDS have more opportunities to integrate into the community. Huyen has a happy family with her husband, Ho Hai Phong who also works at SPN+.

They are very happy because their son is negative to HIV. Naoko Kawana, President of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, said: “Huyen is really a brilliant diamond made from innumerable pressures.”

After saying goodbye to Huyen we went to Da Lat to meet Nguyen Tan Lam, Head of the Da Lat Peer Group, who has spent 14 years traveling around Da Lat City to mobilize people to fight against HIV/AIDS.

Lam said: “Peer education is a very necessary social activity. I once suffered wretched days so I must try my utmost to make society better and life more meaningful.”

With long experience in peer activities, in 2010, at the forum of peer propagandists in the South organized by the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, he became the only person to achieve a maximum score in the competition on HIV/AIDS control knowledge.

We left Da Lat believing that the entire society is accompanying Lam and his friends in the peer group on the way to prevent and control the AIDS disease.

On May 27, 2011, at a press conference themed “Vietnam and the 2011 UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS”, former Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, Head of the National Committee for HIV/AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, said that Vietnam has gradually controlled the growth rate of HIV infection.

The number of new HIV patients has been reduced in the last three years and the number of people who have died of AIDS has decreased since 2005. In 2010, Vietnam reached the national targets of controlling the HIV infection rate in communities at below 0.3%. This number shows the ceaseless efforts of Vietnam in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Caring for HIV/AIDS patients at Dong Da Hospital in Hanoi.

Physician Nguyen Phong Phu at the medical department of the Treatment-Education-
Social Labour Center of Binh Phuoc Province examines an HIV/AIDS patient.

Distributing food, free-of-charge, for HIV/AIDS patients at Dong Da Hospital in Hanoi.

The Treatment-Education-Social Labour Center of Binh Phuoc Province gives medical
check-up to the students of the center.

Taking blood samples to test HIV at the voluntary HIV testing laboratory of the health center
of Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province.

The HIV testing laboratory of Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province.

Interrupting a fit of a drug addict at the Treatment-Education-Social Labour
Center of Binh Phuoc Province.

Injection needles and condoms are delivered, free-of-charge, at a café in Tay Ninh.

A member of SPN+ collects used injection syringes and needles at a “hot spot”.

Ho Hai Phong, a member of the SPN+ Management Board, visits and delivers
 medicine to an HIV/AIDS patient.

Entertainment and sports activities at the Treatment-Education-Social Labour
Center of Binh Phuoc Province.

SPN+ organizes information for HIV/AIDS control in Binh Phuoc Province.

An information competition on HIV/AIDS prevention and control held in 2010 in Binh Phuoc Province.

Youth members in Binh Phuoc Province participate in a march to inform about HIV/AIDS.

An HIV/AIDS communication program of SPN+ at a primary school.