UNDP-supported regional study: Mobile population is very vulnerable to HIV
HA NOI - The national technical support group to a South East Asia HIV and Development project supported by the United Nations Development Programme met in Ha Noi this morning to discuss the findings and recommendations of a national mapping assessment.
The project, in collaboration with the National AIDS Bureau and the Ministry of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure Development, has conducted the mapping assessment along National Highway One, the major transport route of Viet Nam, from north to the south. The assessment is focused on population movement and related HIV vulnerability as part of an overall regional collaboration. Similar exercises have been undertaken in Cambodia, Laos and southern China.
Participants at this consultation meeting are from the National AIDS Committee, the AIDS and Community Journal, Ministry of transport, Institute of Sociology, Womenÿs Union, Youth Union, the AIDS Division of the Ministry of Health, Prevention of Social Evils Division of the Ministry of Labour, Invalid, Social Affairs, Institute of National Development Strategy, Social Development Research and Consultation, United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS in Viet Nam and the United Nations Development Programme.
The assessment shows that there are high HIV vulnerability factors among the mobile population and the communities where these mobile population receive services along the major highway. In addition, there are interactions between the people moving along waterways, sea and land at key junctions both by land and at sea ports. Such interactions are among Vietnamese and with people from other neighbouring countries as well as for Vietnamese who travel to neighbouring countries. It is, therefore, inadequate to target only specific groups as both the people who move or the community where they come from and the community where they interact with are involved in potential HIV vulnerability.
The assessment also identifies a need to strengthen HIV prevention and counselling programmes for users and operators of the transport system, road maintenance and bridge builders who have both risky sexual behaviour and drug use.
Several major recommendations include harmonisation and co-ordination with neighbouring countries to ensure safe sexual behaviour, health and social services and condom availability for both Vietnamese in the country and abroad as well as for people from neighbouring countries.
Viet Nam has been nominated by the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS in its November 1999 annual meeting to be the co-ordinator for the cluster countries of Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Southern China. These cluster countries are to prepare concrete joint actions based on the collaborative framework supported by the UNDP South East Asia HIV and Development project to deal with HIV vulnerability reduction of mobile populations moving both within and among these countries.
This consultation meeting is one of the preparatory steps undertaken by Viet Nam for the cluster country joint action. The National AIDS Bureau of Viet Nam, in collaboration with this UNDP regional project, will host the cluster country consultation in April this year to finalise the regional collaborative programme to deal with regional mobility and related HIV vulnerability.