ADB grants US$20m to combat HIV in Laos, Vietnam

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is granting US$20 million in grants and loans to help Laos and Vietnam address the growing risk of HIV infections in border areas including casinos.

"As people and products move more freely across borders, so do communicable diseases, such as HIV," ADB economist Emiko Masaki said in a statement.

"This project will help in strengthening the HIV response systems of Vietnam and Laos to protect their most vulnerable populations with information, skills, supplies and access to quality healthcare services," she said.

The statement said the border regions had some of the poorest and most isolated populations, "with limited access to health services and limited knowledge of HIV risks."

"New cross border roads, and the mushrooming of hotels, casinos and other businesses in border areas, have increased the threat of HIV infection," it said.

The statement noted that adult HIV prevalence was modest at 0.4 per cent in Vietnam and 0.2 per cent in Laos.

"But the disease has spread to all districts in Viet Nam and is rising in border zones. Meanwhile, being surrounded by countries with higher HIV prevalence has created a high-risk environment for Lao PDR," the statement said.