In Dong Nai province, rates of HIV infection among MSM continue to increase and young MSM (YMSM) have had higher increases in infection rates than their older MSM peers. There remains a profound need for innovative and effective interventions designed for young men who have sex with men (YMSM); particularly YMSM living in rural and low-income communities such as Dong Nai province, to prevent HIV and save lives from AIDS-related deaths.
At the same time, even though some families may be increasingly more accepting of their LGBT children in part due the changing public attitudes towards same-sex attraction, orientation, and behavior. However, majority number of parents/guardians, especially in rural areas and provinces such as Dong Nai provice, are viewed as a barrier to sexual health promotion and disease prevention education, rather than guiding their minorities with useful sexual health information and experience.
Moreover, YMSM have the needs to explore issues of sexual relationships, identity, love, trust, intimacy and other life issues of young ages. Understanding these characteristics, the CBOs in Bien Hoa, Dong Nai namely Xuan Hop, Gnet Bien Hoa, Niem Tin Xanh and two Ho Chi Minh City-based CBOs expanding their network in Bien Hoa namely ALO BOY and Gia Toc Rong actively sought hard-to-reach young men who have sex with men (MSM) through connection with Life Skills Club in Bien Hoa. The majority of CBO members are MSM, therefore, they can easily reach out to the YMSM; however, there are still obstacles due to prejudices and apprehensions from high schools.
Life Skills Club facilitates and organizes activities on life skills development for young students in high schools. With support from the Life Skills Club, the CBOs have shared HIV/AIDS prevention messages, other sexual health care information and combating discrimination against LGBT communities in addition to the club regular topics such as love, trust, intimacy, family, life aspirations etc. Through these activities, the CBO outreach workers have direct contact with young MSM to consult and provid HIV lay testing.
Throughout the USAID fiscal year 2018 (from October 2018 to September 2019) in Dong Nai, LIFE Centre and CBOs has reached about 500 people through five big communication events and more than 1000 people through 40 small communication sessions in fiscal year 2018. Most of these events were also shared on the CBO’s Fan page and their members’ Facebook, reaching over 10,000 views, which helped promoting the CBOs’ HIV testing services effectively.From there, a strong network has been formed to holistically support the YMSM, from real-life environments to the Internet platforms.
“I actually enjoyed your program. I didn’t really want to go the events at first out of shyness, but you guys taught me a lot to protect myself from HIV and risky sexual behaviors. And I could seriously hear your voices in my head while someone asks me to do condomless sex.” – high school student –
“I am now in my eleventh grade. I go to the club and it made me realise how many dangerous sexual diseases out there. I want to be happy and successful in life, I will now focus on studying and staying away from bad friends.” – high school student –
“We are happy with the encouragement and guidance my son gets. He is now more confident and outgoing. His grades are also improving at school. Thank you for everything!” – parent of high school student –
26 NOV 2019, by MPH. Nguyen Nguyen Nhu Trang
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