Vietnam begins testing HIV through saliva

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) – Much like home testing kits, the oral HIV quick test method will be launched in Vietnam for the first time, said an official of the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC).

According to Vo Hai Son, head of the HIV/AIDS Surveillance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Testing Division under VAAC, the MoH is conducting 80,000 HIV tests through saliva in Hanoi and HCM City. The test will also be launched in Thai Nguyen province, Can Tho city and Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in the coming time.

The oral HIV self-test showed 99 percent accuracy in detecting HIV antibodies in high-risk populations, Son said.

High-risk groups include people who inject drugs, homosexual men, and people who engage in unprotected sex.

A US-based HIV testing manufacturer has agreed to sell the kits to Vietnam for around 2 USD per unit, whereas most kits online go for up to 20 USD per unit, he said.

People at high risk of HIV infection can buy this product and test themselves at home, getting results in as little as 15 minutes.

Much like home pregnancy tests, the oral HIV self-test can only serve as a preliminary method of diagnosis. People who get positive results after quick testing should go to medical facilities to seek the most accurate results, Son said.

“Early HIV detection plays an important role in preventing and treating the disease, especially for pregnant women. Early detection of HIV will help the process of treatment and prevention of infections in children,” said Son.

At the press conference late last week, VAAC warned about increasing HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM).

A recent survey conducted in Hanoi showed that the HIV infection rate in MSM accounted for 12 percent of the overall number, Son said.

The risk of HIV infection could increase as HIV prevalence among MSM is high, he added.

According to statistics from VAAC, about 200 HIV-infected children are born each year.

“Previously, 500-600 babies were infected with HIV every year from their mothers. It is hoped that this number will drop to 60 babies or less in the future if there are early preventive measures,” said Hoang Dinh Canh, deputy head of VAAC.-VNS/VNA

Source – Vietnam+