Young Advocates Confront HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam
ACATA Members Meet in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
July 2006–Members of the Asian Community for AIDS Treatment and Advocacy (ACATA) traveled through Viet Nam and met with both local and international AIDS organizations during a five-day training and mentoring workshop held 13–17 February.
ACATA members vistited this drop-in center for injecting drug users in Hai Phong province, outside of Hanoi.
Thirteen ACATA members spent the first part of the workshop in and around Hanoi. At a Family Health International (FHI)-supported drop-in center for injecting drug users in Hai Phong province, two hours outside of the capital, they met with the center’s directors, its health and peer educators, and an FHI representative for a 90-minute question-and-answer session that touched on the nature of the HIV epidemic in the province and the services provided by the center. Because the primary mode of HIV transmission in this area is injecting drug use, participants also examined how the center functions in relation to local government and law enforcement, whose cooperation is essential for the safety and health of the clinic’s clients.
Led by TREAT Asia program managers Jennifer Ho and Stan Wong, the ACATA group then traveled to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Viet Nam. There, experienced ACATA members reviewed basic information about HIV with new participants, providing overviews of topics such as opportunistic infections, antiretroviral drugs, adherence to medication, and drug resistance. The workshop also included sessions on grant proposals and discussions of plans for the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August.
The meeting ended with a two-day joint workshop held with the POLICY Project and Australia’s Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health. Seven community and patient representatives from the two organizations joined ACATA to learn about policy and advocacy, with a particular focus on marginalized communities such as men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users, and HIV-positive women.
ACATA is supported in part by a grant from the Positive Action program of GlaxoSmithKline.