Vietnamese addicted to heroin in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City will now have a better chance to break the cycle of drug addiction thanks to a new cost-effective, community-based service made available by the Government of Vietnam, with support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other international partners.
Since 2005, the U.S. Government and other international partners and organizations have advocated for the introduction of medication-assisted therapy (MAT) using methadone to treat heroin addiction. And now, the Party Commissions, the National Assembly, and the Peoples' Committees in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City, including local health departments, have made MAT a reality in Vietnam.
Fifteen hundred heroin addicts will benefit from the Government of Vietnam's Methadone Pilot Program, and the results of this program will guide future efforts to expand to other Vietnamese communities.
According to Dr. David Jacka from the World Health Organization, MAT "has been proven in numerous countries worldwide, including Vietnam's neighbors in Asia, to reduce crime and opioid drug use, reduce the demand for drugs, and reduce the risk for HIV transmission."
The U.S. Government, along with the United Kingdom's New Services to Fight Drug Addiction Available in Vietnam Department for International Development, the World Bank, and many other groups, has supported the Government of Vietnam in the planning, development, and implementation of this initiative.
On April 29, 2008, the first outpatient clinic providing MAT to both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals was opened at the PEPFAR-supported Thuy Nguyen Clinic in Hai Phong, a port city where half of heroin injectors are living with HIV/AIDS.