According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam is one of the few countries in the Pacific region where the rate of drug coverage for people living with HIV (ARV) has increased significantly. Vietnam, along with the UK, Germany and Switzerland, are countries with the highest HIV/AIDS treatment success rates in the world. The percentage of individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy viruses below the threshold of inhibition is high, reaching over 96%. In addition, Vietnam uses creative means to help people with HIV gain access to treatment as well as support health workers by updating their knowledge and skills to bring about the most effective treatment. The MOH HIV Treatment Guidelines application promises to be an effective “weapon” to help the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS to take place more smoothly and effectively.
The application was approved by the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control – Department of Health (VAAC), and implemented with the support of the US President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Prevention (PEPFAR), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) and Health Development Cooperation in Vietnam (HAIVN). The application technology was supported and built end-to-end by Docosan – a free medical appointment booking platform.
Challenges of Medical Staff and Experts in HIV/AIDS Prevention
In 2020, the total number of viral load tests for all facilities in Vietnam reached 66,088 tests, of which 96.4% of patients had HIV viral load below the suppression threshold and 95.1% had an HIV viral load below the detectable threshold. Therefore, strict adherence to the antiretroviral regimen will help improve the effectiveness of HIV treatment.
At lower-level facilities, the treatment of HIV patients are directly managed by medical facilities of the hospital or the district health centers. However, the diagnosis and treatment are still delayed in some areas due to new staff not being trained or rotated sufficiently. The application can hence help health workers update their knowledge, look up information on prevention, diagnosis and care for HIV-infected people accurately, timely and conveniently.
In addition, the examination, counseling and queries for people living with HIV/AIDS at district health stations are taken charge by the main doctor or the staff of the HIV/AIDS prevention and control program. The change of personnel can significantly affect the process of monitoring and treatment adherence for patients.
This shows the importance of universalizing HIV/AIDS treatment and care guidelines in general and ARV drug regimens, including over 1,300 health facilities that are capable of testing and screening; over 400 HIV examination and treatment facilities nationwide, especially those in remote and hard-to-reach areas of Vietnam.
In November 2019, the Ministry of Health officially issued the “Guidelines for HIV/AIDS treatment and care” according to Decision No. 5456/QD-BYT with the goal of early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection and comprehensive care for HIV and AIDS. At the same time, the initiative to digitize the document “Guidelines for HIV/AIDS care and treatment” of the VAAC was realised with the launch of the mobile application.
The project was approved by the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC), with technical and professional support from HAIVN and designed by Docosan. This is a big step to help patients in the fight against HIV, by first helping the medical team, and updating medical facilities on the HIV / AIDS front with the latest knowledge and information according to the guidance of the Ministry of Health.
Technology Application Helps to Deploy Synchronously and Update Quickly
Technology applications are becoming more important in all areas of life, and especially in the health sector, and has been approved by the Prime Minister to become a national strategy by 2020. With the digitization of HIV/AIDS care and treatment guidelines with the use of a mobile application, the Department of HIV / AIDS showed that they are one of the pioneers for digital transformation projects.
The Ministry of Health’s HIV Treatment Guidelines application serves as an online portal that allows physicians or professionals to access important content such as recommendations related to counseling, HIV testing and diagnosis; treatment with ARV drugs; use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infection; TB prevention and preventive treatment of infectious diseases and vaccination; approach clinical symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of common comorbidities; hepatitis and HIV co-infection management; prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in people living with HIV; improving the quality of HIV/AIDS treatment, home and community-based care and preventive interventions for people living with HIV; managing HIV-infected adolescents…
Doctors and nurses will be periodically updated with new knowledge and information on the “Guidelines for HIV/AIDS treatment and care” through the mobile application. Doctors and specialists can also directly send questions or concerns through the application and receive quick feedback from VAAC.
The BYT HIV Treatment Guidelines application also helps doctors monitor the patient’s basic but important health indicators such as Creatinine, BMI, BSA or APRI index.
Digital transformation has become increasingly important in shortening the time and increasing the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention and control, contributing to the national strategic goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.