Private hospitals ought to be given a larger role in combating HIV/AIDS, experts told a conference held in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.Currently, they are not legally allowed to treat or even diagnose the disease and have to send test results to public medical centres.
However, 17 per cent of HIV-positive people go to private hospitals and clinics for treatment of other ailments and health checks, Le Ngoc Bao, deputy country representative of the US-based NGO Pathfinder International, said.
“Private health care providers treat 45 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women with sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.
The number of people at high risk of contracting HIV, like men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users, and female sex workers using private hospitals, has also increased steadily between 2006 and 2009, he added.
The number of MSMs using private hospitals, for instance, almost doubled from 21 per cent in 2006.
Trinh Thi Le Tram, director of the Centre for Consulting on Legal and Policy on Health and HIV/AIDS, said involving the private health care sector would help continue with prevention and control projects for which foreign financial support is declining.
As of now, the participation of the private sector in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment was limited in awareness raising, education, and consulting services and the unreliable fast tests, she said.
They were not allowed to give medicines to prevent transmission from pregnant HIV-positive mothers to their children, said Nguyen Huu Tung, general secretary of the HCM City Medical Practitioner Society.
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