The additional funds will help maintain a broad range of services, including insurance, for the demographic through 2015, Jonathan Ross, director of United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Health, said during a seminar in Hanoi on Thursday.
USAID and several Vietnamese lending institutions implemented the pilot program a year ago, targeting people who are living with or affected by HIV, and who are at high risk of becoming infected by the virus.
150 people have so far received loans totaling nearly VND2 billion (US$95,500) from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies and the Vietnam Women's Union's Tinh Thuong One Member Limited Liability Microfinance Institution, Dan Tri reported.
The recipients used the funds to set up small businesses like groceries, Doan Thi Quy, member of the presidium of Vietnam Women’s Union, said.
Many women have used the loans “efficiently,” Quy was quoted as saying, adding that the project has helped increase the incomes of HIV affected families.
As of the end of last month, 100 percent of the Tinh Thuong borrowers in Hanoi, the central province of Nghe An, and the northern province of Thai Nguyen had repaid their debts, according to a statement released by USAID on Thursday.
Ninety-five percent of the bank’s clients in Ho Chi Minh City have also repaid their obligations, the statement said.
Around 254,000 people are currently living with HIV in Vietnam, and half of them are in need of antiretroviral drugs for treatment, Dan Tri reported.
More than 20 percent of HIV patients contracted the virus from injection drug use. That figure climbs to 60 percent in some areas, it added.
Since 2004, USAID and the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief have contributed more than $500 million to various programs to support Vietnam’s efforts to prevent and control HIV/AIDS as well as to care for those infected or affected by the disease, according to the agency.
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