amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Intrepid Fund Raisers Take On Viet Nam



February 2006—Kayaking across the warm blue waters of Halong Bay and hiking through remote tropical forests in northern Viet Nam, fifteen adventurous travelers took part in the second annual Trek Asia for amfAR fund-raising challenge, 28 October to 6 November 2005. To join the Trek, participants were required to raise a minimum of $10,000 each through personal contributions and/or sponsorship from friends, family members, and associates. Together they raised more than $175,000 for amfAR’s vital HIV/AIDS programs, including TREAT Asia.

Fifteen trekkers raised funds for amfAR and TREAT Asia with a kayaking and hiking trip to Viet Nam. 

In Hanoi, trekkers received an update on HIV/AIDS in the region from researchers and others working on the front lines of the epidemic, and from TREAT Asia’s Jennifer Ho and Stan Wong. They talked with a group of young HIV-positive Vietnamese at a small coffee shop run by Bright Futures, a nonprofit network of people living with the virus, and heard a group of women—members of an informal network of mothers living with HIV/AIDS—describe the stigma they are forced to endure as a result of HIV infection.

In majestic Halong Bay, a World Heritage site in the Gulf of Tonkin, trekkers launched two-person sea kayaks from a junk that served as their home base. At one point they paddled into a cave that opened on a lagoon where monkeys clung to the limestone walls. Leaving for Viet Nam’s Northern Highlands as a typhoon struck, they found themselves hiking up rain-soaked mountain paths and bedding down in Flower H’mong and White Tai villages.

This year’s Trek followed a successful first outing in China in 2004. Harry Kubetz, one of several trekkers who participated in both events and who was on the planning committee for the 2005 Trek, described the fund raiser as more than just an adventure. “I came back home with the recognition that this experience altered my life,” he said. “My understanding of the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS has deepened in ways I hadn't known were possible.”