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Q&A with PATH’s director of HIV and TB program about the launch of a national program in Vietnam to reduce new HIV infections

Two young men in Vietnam read a leaflet

Two young men in Vietnam read a leaflet about HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and available PrEP services. Photo: PATH.

On November 30, PATH, USAID and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health launched a national program intended to substantially reduce new HIV infections. Global Washington conducted the following Q&A about the new initiative over email with Dr. Kimberly Green, director of PATH’s HIV and TB program.

Why is PATH advocating that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) be made widely available in Vietnam? What lessons did you learn during this process?

PATH is a trusted partner of the Vietnam Ministry of Health (building of nearly 40 years of work together), and is known and appreciated for facilitating introduction of new, impactful health technologies and approaches. Most recently this included piloting and then scaling HIV lay and self-testing. From 2015, when WHO first included PrEP as part of global HIV prevention guidance, the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project fostered technical consultations with the MOH to determine if, when and how PrEP would be introduced. With concerns over increasing HIV prevalence among key populations and a growing demand for new HIV prevention options, the MOH agreed that PrEP be included in the HIV 5-year action plan and to pilot PrEP service delivery. Another step that was critically important was working with men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) to better understand demand, willingness to pay and service delivery preferences for PrEP.  Once the MOH and the USAID/PATH Healthy Markets project had agreement on the service model, a pilot launched in March 2017. The results were very rapidly positive so the MOH decided to use the preliminary results to add PrEP to national HIV clinical guidelines. This led to greater support within and outside of Vietnam to support the scale-up of PrEP. The recent launch is a result of this cumulative commitment to scaling PrEP and accelerating the reduction of new HIV infections in Vietnam. Read More

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