Where We Work
The USAID | Health Policy Initiative (HPI) in Vietnam (2008–2013) promotes an enabling policy environment for HIV programs by:
- Facilitating adoption and implementation of national and local HIV policies, plans, and programs based on international best practices;
- Developing, strengthening, and supporting public sector and civil society advocates and networks to assume leadership in the policy process; and
- Ensuring use of timely and accurate data for evidence-based decisionmaking and advocacy.
HPI/Vietnam builds on the work carried out by Task Order 1 (TO1) of the Health Policy Initiative (2005–2009). The project made significant strides in building the capacity of PLHIV; improving resource mobilization and allocation; and ensuring that national treatment and care policies are based on international best practices and human rights. Specifically, HPI-TO1 contributed to the formulation and adoption of the HIV law which prohibits discrimination; national guidelines on antiretroviral treatment, palliative care, and medication-assisted therapy; and provincial HIV action plans through the Analysis and Advocacy (A2) Project. HPI-TO1 also strengthened the capacity of regional PLHIV networks, which culminated in the formation of the national Vietnam Network of PLHIV (VNP+) and Vietnam Positive Women's Network in 2008. In partnership with PLHIV, the project also promoted treatment literacy and prevention with positives. Finally, HPI-TO1 designed innovative ways to translate policies into action, including establishing five HIV legal clinics and a national HIV hotline in 2007/08 to raise PLHIV awareness of their rights and monitor implementation of the HIV law and policies.
New Guidelines Support HIV Prevention for IDUs. Injecting drug use is one of the main routes of HIV transmission in Vietnam. The government has approved the use of methadone substitution therapy as an HIV prevention method among injecting drug users (IDUs), but, until recently, a lack of clear guidelines for practitioners prevented effective implementation of the policy. On December 12, 2007, the government approved national methadone treatment guidelines and launched a pilot methadone program. The first two pilot clinics were opened in April 2008. HPI-TO1 provided technical support to draft the guidelines and facilitate their approval. The project also conducted a cost-effectiveness study of the pilot program to help inform further scale-up.
PLHIV Form New Networks. HPI-TO1 has been instrumental in helping to strengthen PLHIV engagement, especially by building the capacity of regional networks and nascent self-help groups. In 2007, HPI trained 30 female PLHIV leaders in networking, policy, and advocacy. This led to the founding of the Vietnam Positive Women's Network, the country's first network of HIV-positive women and girls, in February 2008. In August 2008, HPI-TO1 helped bring together 70 representatives of PLHIV self-help groups from all over Vietnam to form a national network. The Vietnam Network of PLHIV (VNP+) will help give PLHIV a unified voice in policy forums, increase their capacity to gain funding, and help member organizations reach out to HIV-positive individuals in communities not reached by existing regional networks.