Viet Nam welcomes this important meeting as it convenes at a time when the United Nations and its Member States are undertaking a mid-term review of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in which the realization of MDG 6 on HIV/AIDS has significant bearing on the implementation of other important MDGs.
Since the Twenty-Sixth Special Session of the General Assembly in 2001 and the High-Level Meeting in 2006, the United Nations and the international community have recorded a number of achievements in the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS such as the increase in access to ARV drugs, including pregnant women, in funding for the response to HIV/AIDS, as well as in the awareness on HIV/AIDS among the population, especially young people. However, for MDG 6 to be achieved, there is a need for greater efforts undertaken by each nation and by the international community as a whole to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially though ensuring that the rate of new HIV infections does not exceed the increase in access to ARV treatment; paying due attention to populations vulnerable to and at high risk of HIV exposure; combating all forms of discrimination and stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS; and enhancing the sustainability of the response to HIV/AIDS, including funding. We therefore hold that this High-Level Meeting will provide the international community with an opportunity to strengthen unanimity on the need to scale up these essential measures.
Given time constraint, let me highlight some major aspects of HIV/AIDS prevention in Viet Nam.
Over the past two years, having perceived the importance of HIV prevention as one of major contents in the course of national development, the Vietnamese Government has incorporated full-scale mobilization of ministries, agencies, political and social organizations, civil society, and the entire community to address this epidemic. Viet Nam has also adopted legislative acts and regulations on HIV/AIDS prevention, most notably the Law and Decree on combating HIV/AIDS, National Strategy for AIDS prevention, as well as programmes of action and a series of technical guidance, thus creating a firm and thorough legal framework for the implementation at different levels. In addition, an integrated AIDS prevention system has been set up from central to local levels, and a national monitoring and evaluation system has been established and evolved in conformity with the three-one principle initiated by the United Nations.
Access to ARV treatment has multiplied by 5.7 times, up to twenty three thousand six hundred and ninety five people in the last two years. The Harm Reduction Programmes have been expanded, with 61% and 33.3% of districts having carried out condom-distribution and needle-exchange programmes respectively, and with more than 10 million needles and syringes distributed. Viet Nam has recently launched methadone-substitution programmes.
Although positive outcomes have been produced owing to the above-mentioned vigorous efforts, Viet Nam is still facing numerous challenges in its response to the HIV epidemic:
Firstly, there is a need to further expand the coverage of not only the Harm Reduction Programmes such as condom distribution, needle-exchange and methadone treatment, but also access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services, particularly the maintenance of continuous and life-long treatment for people living with AIDS.
Secondly, there is a need for a strong monitoring and evaluation system to conduct science-based analyses of the epidemic and make comprehensive assessments on the effectiveness of intervention programmes, with which policies and action plans could be developed in an appropriate and timely manner.
Thirdly, despite the fact that budget allocated to HIV/AIDS prevention has increased by 58% and a significant amount of financial assistance has been mobilized from international donors, such financial resources could only ensure 30% of the need for HIV/AIDS prevention activities.
For recent successes to be built on and for a better response to HIV/AIDS to be obtained, Viet Nam is making every effort to enhance and broaden its international cooperation and earnestly hopes to receive continued financial and technical assistance from groups of international donors for the implementation of its National Strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention in which priorities should be given to the following four programmes: (1) HIV transmission prevention; (2) HIV/AIDS care, counseling and treatment; (3) HIV/AIDS monitoring and evaluation; and (4) institutional capacity-building on HIV/AIDS prevention at the provincial level.
We are convinced that, with continued international cooperation and assistance, Viet Nam will improve its capacity to overcome the said challenges, thus making significant contributions to the common efforts to prevent the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Let me take this opportunity to express Viet Nam’s support to the increased role of the United Nations in this endeavor.
Thank you, Mr. President.