HIV-Positive Mothers in Viet Nam: Using Their Status to Build Support Groups and Access Essential Services

Posted: 8 Apr 2009

See all articles by Pauline Oosterhoff

Pauline Oosterhoff

Institute of Development Studies

Nguyen Thu Anh

Hanoi Medical University

Pamela Wright

Medical Committee Netherlands Viet Nam

Anita Hardon

Amsterdam School for Social Research

Date Written: November 1, 2008

Abstract

Various support and self-help groups for people living with HIV and their families have developed in Viet Nam in recent years. This paper reports on a case study of Sunflowers, the first support group for HIV positive mothers in Hanoi, begun in 2004, and a sister group begun in 2005 in Thai Nguyen province. From April 2004 to early 2007, we carried out semi-structured interviews with 275 health care workers and 153 HIV-positive women and members of their families, as well as participant observation of group meetings and activities. Sunflowers have successfully organised themselves to access vital social, medical and economic support and services for themselves, their children and partners. They gained self-confidence, and learned to communicate with their peers and voice their needs to service providers. Based on personal development plans, they have accessed other state services, such as loans, job counselling and legal advice. They have also gained access to school and treatment for their children, who had previously been excluded. Although the women were vulnerable to HIV as wives and mothers, motherhood also provided them with social status and an identity they used to help build organisations and develop strategies to access the essential services that they and their families need.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, gender roles, self-help groups, antiretroviral treatment, injection drug use, Viet Nam

Suggested Citation

Oosterhoff, Pauline and Anh, Nguyen Thu and Wright, Pamela and Hardon, Anita, HIV-Positive Mothers in Viet Nam: Using Their Status to Build Support Groups and Access Essential Services (November 1, 2008). Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 16, No. 32, pp. 162-170, November 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1373747

Pauline Oosterhoff (Contact Author)

Institute of Development Studies ( email )

Brighton, 1012 CX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.ids.ac.uk/person/pauline-oosterhoff

Nguyen Thu Anh

Hanoi Medical University ( email )

Hanoi
Vietnam

Pamela Wright

Medical Committee Netherlands Viet Nam ( email )

Amsterdam
Netherlands

Anita Hardon

Amsterdam School for Social Research ( email )

Amsterdam, 1012 CX
Netherlands

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