Project helps 1,400 people living with AIDS gain employment

More than 1,400 people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS have been able to find a job or run their own businesses with support from a five-year US-Government funded programme.

A peer educator consults local community with contraceptive as a way to prevent from HIV infection in Nam Dinh Province. —VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

The figure was disclosed at a ceremony held yesterday to mark the programme's end, known as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) HIV workplace project.

Speaking at the event, USAID director in Viet Nam Joakim Parker said despite impressive progress, Viet Nam was still likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the epidemic.

"There is a lot of work to be done," Parker said. "People living with HIV/AIDS have to battle terrible social stigma associated with the infection. In far too many cases, family support withers, marriages dissolve and jobs are lost once a person's HIV status is known."

Started in 2008, the US$3 million funded project has expanded workplace-based HIV prevention activities to 118 enterprises in eight provinces and cities with more than 100,000 people trained in HIV prevention.

Besides job placement support and training, people living with HIV also received more than $100,000 in loans through Vietnamese micro-finance providers.

Le Duc Hien, deputy director of the Labour Ministry's department for prevention of social evils, said as the international support for HIV/AIDS prevention was expected to dwindle.

"The country needed to further develop effective policies that could make the works of international partners sustainable after they left," he stressed.

"From experience, we know that it's not enough to give a loan of VND20 million and let the government and the receiver take all the risks. It's necessary to guide and train them how to use that money effectively," he said.

According to Hien, the department is working on a national programme to support people living with HIV/AIDS to find employment and increase their access to small loans. It's expected to go for Government approval this year.

Source VNS