HCMC, May 27-29th,

 In an effort to enhance their sales and customer service strategies, LADDERS partnered with the PACE Institute of Management to provide specialized training for DOME staff – the community one-stop shop model pioneered by LADDERS. The training aimed to equip ten DOMEs with the necessary skills and knowledge to revolutionize their approach to sales and customer service. The 3-day  training program focused on several key areas. First, trainees were introduced to the fundamental principles of sales, learning about different sales approaches, effective communication techniques, and the importance of building rapport with clients. They were taught how to identify customer needs, tailor their recommendations accordingly, and deliver persuasive sales pitches. By mastering these skills, the community-dedicated individuals would be able to provide a more personalized and engaging customer experience. They learned the importance of active listening, empathy, and problem-solving, enabling them to build trust and loyalty with customers. This emphasis on customer service aims to create a positive and memorable experience for every individual who interacts with DOME.

One critical aspect of the training was to equip the participants with the knowledge and tools to offer customer service both free-of-charge services and billable ones. The trainer, Mr. Vo Thanh Viet advised on the importance of clearly communicating the value and benefits of the billable services offered by DOME. By understanding the unique selling points and advantages of these services, the management staff of each DOME could effectively convey this information to customers, enabling them to make informed decisions to access billable services. This approach would not only prevent the loss of customers who were accustomed to free services, but also ensure that customers understand the value they would receive by utilizing the offerings at a  DOME.

LADDERS recognizes the importance of supporting community organizations to have strong business models and skills in order to remain as viable staples that can respond to community needs, independent of donor funds. This is one of many activities to achieve that goal.


Figure 1-5. By empowering the staff with knowledge and skills, the DOME model aims to revolutionize its approach to sales and customer service to sustain business models. With the ability to effectively advise and care for customers, DOME could successfully include billable offerings in addition to free services, maximizing customer satisfaction and ensuring long-term success and sustainable development of the community one-stop shop model- DOME.

HCMC, May 17-19,

HIV community-based organizations (CBOs) play a critical role in reaching vulnerable populations and providing essential services. It is crucial for these organizations to equip their outreach workers with lay testing skills for HIV outreach, counseling, screening, and testing, especially considering the challenge of high staff turnover.

Last week, LADDERS organized a HIV lay-test training workshop, bringing together 32 new, enthusiastic and dedicated young community outreach workers from 8 DOMEs and CBOs in Ho Chi Minh City. This workshop aimed to empower these individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct HIV testing within their communities, effectively reaching out to those most at risk and reducing the stigma associated with the disease. The 3-day workshop covered a wide range of topics, including the basics of HIV virology, modes of transmission, and the importance of early detection.

The participants engaged in interactive sessions, where they learned about the different types of HIV tests (Mylan and Alere Combo), their accuracy, and the appropriate counseling techniques to support individuals undergoing the rapid testing. They were provided with practical demonstrations, hands-on practice, and role-playing exercises to simulate real-life scenarios they might encounter during testing sessions.

The trainers, who are doctors and experts from Ho Chi Minh City CDC,  shared their expertise, experiences, and best practices with the participants, nurturing a sense of confidence and competence in their ability to perform HIV lay-testing effectively. The trainers emphasized the importance of maintaining privacy, confidentiality, and non-judgmental attitudes throughout the testing process, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for individuals seeking testing services. Moreover, the workshop placed great emphasis on the significance of community engagement and partnership, particularly through the C2P mechanism. Participants were encouraged to build strong relationships with local healthcare facilities, and other related partners to ensure a continuum of care for those identified with HIV.

By training outreach workers in lay testing, community-based organizations can maintain a consistent level of community-based service delivery, capacitating outreach workers to conduct HIV testing consistently and to standard. These exercises are necessary to mitigate the potential negative impacts of staff turnover and continue delivering vital HIV services to those who need them most.

Figure 1,2,3. By the end of the workshop, the 32 young community outreach workers emerged as new capable HIV lay-testers. Each participant trained with hands-on experience conducting the HIV rapid tests.

HCMC – May, 11,2023

USAID Local Assistance to Develop and Deliver Excellence, Resilience, and Sustainability in Vietnam (LADDERS) assesses the performance and initial results of the DOME model on a six-month review meeting. DOME, a community one stop shop model developed under the LADDERS project, offers an optimized approach to bolster the capacity of community-based organizations to offer clients the best experience and services as well as ensure their sustainable development. Over the last 6 months, the model has been piloted in Ho Chi Minh City with 8 DOMEs as LADDERS has supported and committed to building and enhancing DOME capacities to deliver HIV services and beyond. Last week, an internal meeting was convened to review and assess the performance and key initial results of all DOMEs with 70 participants from USAID, LADDERS team, mentors, the original 8 DOMEs, 2 newly joined DOMEs and all LADDERS-supporting CBOs from Dong Nai, Ha Noi, Can Tho and Kien Giang. The 1-day agenda offered a deep dive into the model itself to facilitate and motivate comprehensive understanding among community leaders; a meticulous analysis of DOME 6-month performances and a practical discussion  with DOME leaders on development strategies in the future.

The figures and trends might vary from DOMEs yet  the 8 community-led health facilities all showed necessary capacities in generating revenues from additional services beyond core funding along with significant determination as they all see values and potential of the model. In the event, an open forum enabled questions and comments to share and pass around the room so that the non-DOME CBOs learnt a great deal by example in the hope of strengthening their governance, capacities and enhancing the quality and sustaining their service delivery.  With extra assistance of the Business Development expert team, LADDERS commits to offering continuous mentorship, capacity building and a variety of technical and financial support to ensure each facility develops its strengths  in compliance with given standards to maximize its impact and appeal to community, generate more revenues towards self-efficiency while being periodically monitored and evaluated. 

In order to sustain themselves, DOMEs will need to make profit by expanding current services to include SOPs for various fee-for-services, harnessing utilization of technologies for management, M&E and client outreach with D.Health integration, continuing to work with business development experts to transition revenue to be more resilient and less donor dependent as mentorship is critical in the hope of guiding community-based organizations out of the dependency/grant funding mindset that is ever shrinking and limited to a self-sufficient model that supports alternative revenue streams. And the DOMEs will be a case study for self-sufficiency that can be helpful to inform future moves for independence.

Refer to event pictures here

Figure 1. In reviewing the key initial results of the DOME model, meeting attendants celebrated the achievements against adversities and challenges as well as getting excited about development prospects and upscale applicability of the model.

Community-based organizations and social enterprises led by key populations have significant advantages in their capacity to reach, recruit, and support those most-at-risk of HIV. Last month, a series of 5 training workshops were successfully organized to reinforce understanding and practice of work ethics and code of conduct among community outreach workers delivered by Dr Nguyen Thanh Liem and Dr Nguyen Tan Thu. The participants were guided through the core characteristics of professionalism, work ethics and code of conduct to understand the morals and core values of their work as well as the significance of complying with procedures, respecting regulations, exercising their rights and affirming their clients’ rights. In addition, all participants took the opportunities to identify, list out and endorse the most significant traits of work ethics, prominent terms of rights for an OW and a client as well as essential qualifications of a community worker to revise existing documents and consent for consistent practice and compliance. The finalized content has been materialized into thoughtful designs of posters for DOME/CBO interior décor so that they are visible to all visitors including staff, collaborators, clients and associates for reference and practice. These posters are being disseminated to all community organizations supported by LADDERS. These reminders are a meaningful tool for OWs to relate and find their part in them. These reference tools play a significant part in improving the quality of services and enhancing the client experience. 

The code of conduct and work ethics are essential qualifications that all CBO staff should master and practice on a daily basis. These practices, particularly among vulnerable populations, aim to protect the trust and confidentiality of clients as well as strengthen the reputation of the participating CBOs. These capacities for community outreach workers are parts of USAID’s commitment to investing in sustainable and responsible systems that can provide good quality services that are respectful and reputable.


Figure 1. The major work ethics traits: respect, honesty, confidentiality, responsibility, accountability and transparency  are defined as essential for community outreach worker success and are listed short and sweet in the document for reference.

Figure 2. The poster speaks precisely and comprehensively of prominent rights of both client and community outreach worker in the hope that all parties strictly comply to maximize the service quality and impact.

Figure 3. The poster offers CBO and DOME workers/staff  guidance and reference to conduct their outreach and community work better. This is also the tool for the leaders to assess the performances of employees/collaboratives on regular basis.

SMILE Study reaches out to young LGBTQ+ students in Can Tho city in a significant community event

Earlier in April, Can Tho CDC coordinated with LADDERS, along with 4 local community-based organizations and 13 universities and colleges to successfully organize a tremendous community event entitled “SAFE-UNI Festival |Color of Me” at Can Tho University. This festival was the biggest gathering of young people in Can Tho yet, engaging nearly 1000 students to celebrate diversity, pride and unity as well as raise awareness and enhance knowledge about HIV/AIDS as well as promote safe sex practices and health seeking habits. This special event featured a variety of exciting activities including “Sketch your Dream”, the “SAFE LOVE, LOVE SAFE” parade, fun games on the D.Health app, the HIV/AIDS trivia on stage, and guest performances from popular KOLs, etc. And the SMILE study booth was among the highlights of the event.

The booth was set up at the most crowded area outside the auditorium next to 4 CBO’s display booths, with QR codes for young people to scan and complete the research on their smart devices during the event. Young people were curious and attracted to booth where they were briefed in detail about the study and guided through the process of finishing all the questions with additional inquiries answered and technical support available. There was always a queue of young people around the SMILE booth. As a result, 172 valid complete research sheets were collected with 744 young people scanning and participating in the study. Precious key findings include experiences and stories of young LGBTQ+ individuals in Can Tho city related to stigma, discrimination and mental health issues. Even those who are not LGBTQ+ boosted understanding, broadened knowledge and fostered empathy for reducing discrimination and facilitating tolerance and love.

Currently, LIFE is collaborating with the Can Tho community organization to collect more questionnaires after the event.


Khảo sát SMILE

Can Tho city, April 2, 2023

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam is most impacting young people under 29 years of age who are engaging in unprotected sex and Can Tho city is no exception. Concerningly, these young people including students have limited information and knowledge related to HIV prevention, treatment, and services, leading to a low utilization of health care services.  Over the years, with the technical assistance of LADDERS project, Can Tho CDC has made significant progress in mobilizing resources and meaningful participation of local universities and vocational schools to various programs and interventions, which mounts collective efforts to address young audiences in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex practices.

Can Tho CDC coordinated with LIFE Centre, 4 local community-based organizations and 13 universities and colleges to successfully organize a tremendous community event titled SAFE-UNI Festival |Color of Me at Can Tho University campus on April 2nd,  2023. In the format of a typical SAFE-UNI communication event, this festival was the biggest gathering of young people in Can Tho yet, engaging nearly 1000 students to celebrate diversity, pride and unity as well as raise awareness and enhance knowledge about HIV/AIDS as well as promote safe  sex practices and health seeking habits. On this special event, participants enjoyed themselves in a variety of exciting activities including “Sketch your Dream”,  the SAFE LOVE, LOVE SAFE parade outside, fun games on D.Health app, SMILE research, the HIV/AIDS trivia on stage, and guest performances of famous KOLs etc.

On top of that, 4 CBO booth display zone offered interactive games, gifting of communication materials and safe sex commodities as well as introduction of each organization and its key services in order to connect young students and their fellow friends with and increase service uptake to community HIV and health services provided by locally-based community-based organizations (CBOs). As a result, each CBO has collected personal information from good number of new young clients for further support and intervention and Can Tho CDC has even managed to provide HIV counseling and testing services to a number of young students with their mobile services. The festival has proven effective and impactful in the sense of deploying different dynamic tactics and ingenious approaches (influencers to engage hundreds of sexually active young people at one big venue, and delicately yet practically communicate key messages around regular testing, HIV prevention

This SAFE-UNI event is among key programs that LADDERS has been offering to strengthen technical capacities of Can Tho CDC and CBOs in terms of implementing impactful communication activities and sustaining community HIV and health service delivery in the hope to reduce and prevent HIV/AIDS transmission among young people in Can Tho City. The SAFE-UNI approach, which is feasible and impactful to advance and expand brings CBOs and universities/schools into a similar relationship as CBOs and HFs through the C2P+ model – utilizing and expanding the collaborations and impact of CBOs for serving the broader community through the power of engaging partnerships.

Figure 1. Nearly 1000 students gathered up at Can Tho Universtiy campus to participate in a variety of activities and interactions: Sketch Your Dream  to draw images of happiness on a T-Shirt, D.Health & SMILE research booth to play games, complete the survey for presents, CBO Display Zone to learn and have fun. Young participants also sign on the “LOVE SAFE” petition billboard as a commitment to always love themselves and practice safe sex.

Figure 2. The LOVE SAFE, SAFE LOVE parade was among the highlights of the event where young students and esteemed guests (from VAAC, HCM Communist Youth Union, USAID, Can Tho CDC, LIFE Centre, …) showed out to celebrate diversity, love and encourage safe sex practices. Miss Supranational Nguyen Minh Tu and pop singer Lynk Lee joined the crowd to deliver the key messages louder.

Dong Nai – 23.2.2023 

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam is most impacting young people under 29 years of agre who are engaging in unprotected sex. Concerningly, these young people have limited information and knowledge related to HIV prevention, treatment, and services, leading to a low utilization of health care services. LADDERS currently supports 32 community-based organizations and social enterprises (CBO/SEs) in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Dong Nai, Can Tho and Kien Giang provinces to provide critical support and services to vulnerable people, including students. Through the SAFE UNI model, CBOs/SEs enhance the knowledge of students in universities, colleges and vocational schools, particularly among at-risk groups, on HIV prevention and safe sex practices.

Last week, G-Net Bien Hoa CBO managed to conduct an offline SAFE UNI event for young students of Dinh Tien Hoang 2 high school in Dong Nai province. More than 200 hundred local young adolescents from grades 10 and 11 were present with school leaders and teachers. They participated in various interactive and informative activities promoting key messages of self-love, healthy lifestyle, and health-seeking habits while introducing free HIV testing, counseling, and PrEP services. Esteemed guest speakers including health experts from Bien Hoa OPC and LIFE Centre managed to engage the young audience, piquing their curiosity and provoking their excitement. Through games and interactions, students broaden their knowledge of gender/sexuality, HIV/AIDS and STIs along with additional information and fun tips about love, safe sex practices and healthy living. The organizer, G-Net Bien Hoa CBO, took the opportunity to promote their brand and deliver their HIV testing and counseling services on site during and after the events.

SAFE Uni events offer a safe space for students to raise concerns, discuss misinformation and freely learn and explore topics about gender, sex, health, and HIV/AIDS through talk shows, arts and booths delivered and showcased by community organizations. The younger the audience reached, the more timely the intervention might be in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention. This approach brings CBOs and universities/schools into a similar relationship as CBOs and HFs through the C2P+ model – utilizing and expanding the collaborations and impact of CBOs for serving the broader community through the power of engaging partnerships

Figure 1,2. The school leaders expressed and offered their full endorsement and support to such programs and interventions for young people (i.e. SAFE UNI) as it is crucial to debunk the taboo and myths of sex, health, HIV/AIDS and love. Students should have the opportunity to be more open and have safe space/opportunities to learn and share as their concerns and curiosities should be heard and discussed in a timely and thoughtful manner to be informative and impactful for their future.


Figure 3,4. Key messages related to sex and HIV/AIDS were sensitized, shaped and delivered that were age-appropriate for high school students in a witty GenZ way by community-friendly experts, capturing young participants’ attention and communicating in a way that resonated with them.

After six months of implementing the pilot social contracting in Dong Nai province, LADDERS in partnership with Dong Nai Center of Disease Control (CDC) and  EpiC/FHI360 convened a meeting to review progress of the program in 2022 and plan for the year 2023. For the first social contract, Dong Nai CDC has engaged Hung Vu Social Enterprise which was grown from Full House Dong Nai CBO.

At this meeting, Hung Vu shared how they performed the contracted tasks as well as overcame the challenges in close collaboration with Long Thanh District Health Center and with strong support from Dong Nai CDC. The challenges, as cited, included the low cost norm as compared with the sub-contract norm and also the volume of financial acquittal work. At the end of the meeting, Dong Nai CDC presented their 2023 social contracting plan with specific targets and deliverables, calling for local CBOs’ engagement, adoption and proposal.

Without community-led complementarity to the national response, epidemic control in Vietnam would not be possible. Sustainable solutions including social contracting help ensure that local resources can and will sustain efforts beyond the life of donor assistance. Social contracting is one of the key solutions for sustainable financing to sustain the role of community organizations in the HIV/AIDS response. Through technical support, LADDERS helps build capacities and readiness for social contracting towards contributing to a resilient and timely response to surge public health needs where government funding is available to support community service delivery.

Figrue 1. Dr Nguyen Xuan Quang, Head of HIV/AIDS Unit, Dong Nai CDC, presented the 2023 social contracting plan

Figure 2. USAID LADDERS staff, Ms Nhung Truong, presented the TA plan to enhance community capacities for CBO participating in social contracting pilot


HCMC – 1.12.2022

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is increasing rapidly among young people, particularly men who have sex with men. Among those who are diagnosed with HIV, people under 29 years of age account for almost 50%. Concerningly, these young people have limited information and knowledge related to HIV prevention, treatment, and services, leading to low utilization and up-take of health care services. Upon reviewing the data, it was recognized that current programming has not focused on reaching young factory workers who seemed to be disproportionately affected. The SAFE-ZONE campaign, initiated under the LADDERS project, has been working to address this gap in coverage among this at-risk group. On December 1st, LADDERS, implemented by Life Centre, convened a workshop introducing the SAFE –ZONE campaign.

The campaign uses tailored HIV prevention messages and materials specifically for workers in factories/industrial zones focusing on improving knowledge, attitudes and practices related to sexual health, including safe sex practices and HIV/AIDS prevention. This intervention also enhances access to community-based HIV services such as counseling, testing, referral, PrEP, PEP and ARV. This novel intervention was piloted in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai provinces in late 2022, with promising initial results. Stakeholders and representatives of factories and multinational companies recognized the tangible impact of SAFE-ZONE in the common goal of improving and protecting workers’ health.

In order to achieve the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, it’s critical for a broad and collective effort with partners in both industry as well as health work together to mobilize the available resources/expertise to reduce HIV transmission among the key populations – particularly young MSM in factory/industrial zones.

Figure 1. A featured talk show during the workshop discussed the impact of SAFE-ZONE and its potential for expansion. Participants included a representative from the VAAC, two representatives from industry, a representative from a CBO working in the SAFE-ZONE campaign and the Director for LIFE Centre overseeing the implementation of LADDERS.

Figure 2. Dr Minh Tam Thi Nguyen, Leader of the Vietnam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control, emphasized the urgency and necessity of deploying innovative intervention models on HIV/AIDS for young factory workers.

Figure 3. Dr Randolph Augustin, Director of the Office of Health at USAID Vietnam, also affirmed USAID’s commitment to strengthening community capacities, enhancing community engagement through strategic partnerships (e.g. C2P+).



HCMC, Jan-March

LADDERS, through the SAFE Zone campaign, has worked to enhance the knowledge of workers in industrial zones and factories/companies, particularly among young people, on HIV prevention and safe sex practices. The campaign does this by providing them with information and practices for their protection to ensure their well-being. In 2023, a strategic partnership with the HCMC Labor Federation allowed LADDERS to bring HIV services to the workplace to address access barriers. The Federation’s effort to coordinate and liaise with a number of companies/enterprises around the city has paved the way for 10 SAFE-ZONE campaigns to reach out to roughly 3,000 workers in various settings.

Four DOMEs, community one-stop shop models established under LADDERS, which includes M for M, Alo Boy, G3VN and Glink, have been conducting communications activities that engaged workers at the factory with these matured community groups. The outreach workers who are members of those organizations created activities that provided more detailed information according to the needs of each factory worker they engaged with, answering their  questions and supporting them to utilize available and beneficial services from their respective DOME to help meet these employees specific health needs.

Through this activity, these newly engaged workers are more familiar with the types of services provided by a DOME and building a relationship/trust with a particular DOME to further engage them to discuss various sexual health needs or issues. The DOME(s) assigned to specific employers continue to maintain their relationship with them in order to support ongoing activities and needs in which the DOME can help support newly diagnosed workers transition as clients to support on treatment or PrEP which are part of the strategic work to controlling HIV spread.

The sustained SAFE-ZONE campaign helps various workers in factory settings see the importance of health protection, especially sexual health. Bringing these services to the workplace also helps to address barriers of access which makes it more convenient for workers to utilize these health services, as well as providing information and connection to foster the utilization of these services among those who are most likely to benefit. This multi-stakeholder collaboration for convenient and effective SAFE-ZONE activities targeting factory workers should be considered for further documentation and institutionalization in the hope of building a healthy workforce for a sustainable and prosperous business and realizing the national policy of “Health for all”.

Figure 1,2,3. Shy as they might appear, these young workers quickly found themselves engaging in the interactive sessions delivered by charismatic MCs and guest speakers.

Figure 4,5. This SAFE ZONE event took place at venues where 75% of workers are young men. Each DOME managed to provide more than 200 participants with critical information about HIV, STIs, safe sex and PrEP, as well as services and key messages about health-seeking habits.

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