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Gender dimensions should be highlighted in HIV control in Vietnam: Int’l experts

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English translation of article published by the Voice of Vietnam, 20 March 2011

Vietnam should highlight gender dimensions in the fight against HIV/AIDS to make the country’s efforts fully effective, said international experts at a conference held by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Hanoi on March 16.

The Southeast Asian country should exert efforts to bring gender education into activities under the national strategy against HIV/AIDS on expectations that this will give the best results as shown in China, Myanmar and Cambodia, the experts said. 

Nazneen Damji from UN Women said that educating and implementing gender equality plays an important role in fighting against HIV/AIDS, as inequality results in the rise of this pandemic disease.

Agreeing with Nazneen Damji, Dr. Jane Wilson, UNAIDS’ Asia-Pacific Regional Gender Adviser, said Vietnam’s Law on HIV/AIDS Control, Law on Gender Equality and National Strategy on Gender Equality  for 2011-2020 show its efforts in HIV prevention.

She said that she highly appreciated the country’s strong commitments to the fight.

However, the response is facing challenges as the number of additional HIV-infected people has risen among men who have sex with men (MSM) at 30% and 45% among drug addicts. Moreover, the rate of HIV-infected women has been rising.

On this issue, the two experts called for further efforts from the Vietnamese government as local women who are wives and lovers of drug addicts or women who have sex with them have been hardly able to access preventive services.

Prejudices and oriental bias are reasons making the rate of HIV-infected women higher. Therefore, the country should build data on these women to improve men’s awareness of HIV/AIDS and to reduce discrimination towards female victims, the experts said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Le Minh Giang, vice chair of the Department of Ethics and Social Medicine at Hanoi Medical University, cum member of the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS Prevention, said that further researches on different groups of high-risk people should be required under the general efforts by various agencies and organizations.

Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, director of Center for Social Development Studies, Vietnam, otherwise, said that men are said to be strong so they try to behave in their ways like smoking, drinking alcohol or even having sex with other women that hide risks of HIV/AIDS.

Therefore, men should be seen in a fair way to help them avoid pressure that men must be stronger than women and in the so-called social issues.


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