Vietnam: Aids/HIV patients suffer social rejection

National staff : 93
International staff : 15

Such is the taboo associated with AIDS, that people diagnosed as being HIV positive are often refused access to health care and are rejected by their families and society at large.


In the coastal city of Nha-Trang in south-eastern Vietnam, MSF carries out an assistance programme which aims at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs as well as improving patient care for those who have contracted these illnesses. The team runs this pilot project out of a reproductive health care clinic. MSF has been working in Can Tho province since March 1997.

The programme focuses on improving patient care, and women's health care in particular, in three health care centres and a referral hospital. Access to health care remains a problem for both financial and cultural reasons, for some groups in Vietnamese society. MSF's project in Can Tho targets the HIV positive and those suffering from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In the southern province of Cau-Mau, MSF runs a project to improve sanitary and environmental conditions. This pilot project was initiated with a view to preventing a new outbreak of dengue fever, the acute viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, characterised by headache, fever, pains in the joints and skin rash. The project covers four communes inhabited by 75,000 people in the Cai Nuoc district.

In order to implement vector control, MSF team provides water and sanitation assistance throughout the communes. MSF is training health care staff to better diagnose water-borne diseases. MSF is carrying out an evaluation on the health care situation in Cau-Mau with a view to launching a long-term project in a province only just beginning to recover from Typhoon Linda (November 1997).

MSF provides humanitarian assistance to the victims of floods which destroyed much of the infrastructure in the central province of Quang Nam at the end of 1998. An MSF team assists the inhabitants of rural communities, focusing on the provision of water and sanitation assistance, the rehabilitation of health care structures as well as the distribution of medical and non-medical supplies to health structures.