amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Visionaries

Name: Bui Thi Bien

Role: Treatment literacy educator in Vietnam and the leader of Bright Futures Thai Binh, a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

Bui Thi Bien 

Where are you from?
I was born in a poor village in Kien Xuong district of Thai Binh province. I got married to a classmate when I was 19 years old.

How did you learn you had HIV?
When I was six months pregnant, I went to a free program for pregnant women and got a blood test. A month later, I received an HIV-positive result. I was so shocked, I nearly became unconscious. Soon our HIV status was known throughout the whole village.

Proudest accomplishment
Once I began to learn more about HIV and speak out publicly about my status, things began to change. Then I thought of establishing a support group in our village. Our monthly meetings helped group members monitor and manage their health, and group activities attracted many people seeking spiritual and physical care and support. In a small way I have participated in breaking the barriers of stigma and discrimination and have helped PLWHA be confident to disclose their status and get treated.

Outlook
Now my support group is big, my children are growing up, and I have a chance to participate in many activities. Thinking back to five years before I was first diagnosed, I could never have imagined I would have such a bright future.