A Qualitative Study of Stigma and Discrimination against People Living with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) are a pressing problem in Vietnam, in particular because of propaganda associating HIV with the “social evils” of sex work and drug use. There is little understanding of the causes and sequelae of stigma and discrimination against PLHIV in Vietnam. Fifty-three PLHIV participated in focus group discussions in Ho Chi Minh City. Nearly all participants experienced some form of stigma and discrimination. Causes included exaggerated fears of HIV infection, misperceptions about HIV transmission, and negative representations of PLHIV in the media. Participants faced problems getting a job, perceived unfair treatment in the workplace and experienced discrimination in the healthcare setting. Both discrimination and support were reported in the family environment. There is a need to enforce laws against discrimination and provide education to decrease stigma against PLHIV in Vietnam. Recent public campaigns encouraging compassion toward PLHIV and less discrimination from healthcare providers who work with PLHIV have been encouraging.
KeywordsStigma Discrimination HIV/AIDS Vietnam Southeast Asia
This research would not have been possible without the technical assistance and support of Dr. Vu Nguyen Thanh, Ms. Cynthia Teeters, Dr. Truong Trong Hoang, the Board of Directors of Binh Thanh District Health Center, and Family Health International in Vietnam. We wish to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fogarty International Center of the National Institute of Health (D43TW000003) for their financial support of the project. We are also grateful for assistance from the staff and peer educators of the ATS and the Binh Thanh District Health Center. Dr. Annette Sohn was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (K23 HD047166). Finally, we greatly appreciate the contributions of the study participants who spent their time in focus group discussions and interviews, providing us with valuable information about their lives.
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