HANOI (Reuters) - The deputy head of Vietnam's national AIDS
committee estimated on Tuesday the country
would have 140,000 to 165,000 people infected with HIV by the
end of this year.
"The situation with HIV is serious and is getting more and
more serious," Nguyen Chung A, vice chairman of the National
Committee for HIV/AIDS Prevention, told a news conference.
He said a total 26,333 cases of HIV infection had been detected
while 4,305 people had developed AIDS. He said 2,218 had died.
According to official data, the total number of detected HIV
infections was 17,130 last year.
Vietnam's efforts in fighting the epidemic had shown some
success as experts had predicted in 1993 that the number of HIV
carriers would jump to 570,000 by the end of 2000, according to
the vice chairman.
But the battle to control the disease has encountered
difficulties in a country where sexual matters are rarely
discussed in public and up to 90% of drug addicts return to
their habits after leaving rehabilitation centers.
Vietnam, with a population estimated at 79 million, has a
thriving prostitution industry and a growing drug problem.
In the latest anti-AIDS campaign launched this year, Vietnam
targeted men, as their behavior made them more vulnerable to
the epidemic, said committee official Chu Quoc An.
He said 80% to 89% of detected HIV carriers in Vietnam were
men. One problem is inadequate production of condoms, which
results in the smuggling of low quality ones from China. This
may increase the risk of infection, according to the vice
He estimated the current production shortfall at around 80
million condoms a year.
Official media has previously put demand for condoms in Vietnam
at 187 million a year. It has predicted a shortfall of 119
million in 2002 when the demand is expected to reach 269