02 June 2017 - Individuals who receive a confirmed HIV-positive diagnosis quickly are more likely to enroll in treatment. Historically, HIV screening sites in Vietnam have relied on laboratory staff or other ad hoc means to transport samples to centralized laboratories for confirmatory testing. This practice can significantly delay getting verified results to patients, particularly in remote and mountainous areas. In 2016 the USAID SMART TA project and follow-on USAID SHIFT projects worked with local partners in Nghe An and Dien Bien provinces to design and launch a new system to transport samples from screening to confirmatory labs via VietPost. After completing its first full six months of operation, accounting and financial reporting, USAID SHIFT analyzed and found significant improvements in time and cost-efficiency, as well as patient diagnosis and linkages to treatment among sites implementing the VietPost model (1). HIV testing sites received confirmatory results in 40% less time when using the VietPost versus traditional model.  As a result, 25% more clients received their HIV test results in Nghe An, and 7% in Dien Bien. This helped USAID SHIFT-supported sites to successfully link 14% more HIV-positive patients from testing to treatment in Dien Bien, and 7% in Nghe An. Concurrently, the VietPost model reduced costs by 29%, from VND 159,648 per sample in 2015 to VND 113,011 per sample in 2016. USAID SHIFT will widely disseminate results from the analysis as well as information on the process used to implement the VietPost model in Nghe An and Dien Bien, which requires careful planning and coordination with local authorities. The project looks forward to working with provincial and national partners to expand this positive practice.

(1) Performance was compared for sites implementing the VietPost model between July-December 2016 versus the traditional model from July-December 2015. To ensure comparability, the analysis excluded data for specimen transportation from commune level, which began in 2016, and from districts with district-level confirmatory laboratories which reduce or eliminate transportation needs (Vinh City and Que Phong in Nghe An; Tuan Giao, Dien Bien, and Dien Bien Phu City in Dien Bien).