Kid’s Sun Group is a community-based organization (CBO), based in Hanoi, of people living with HIV and key affected populations in Viet Nam.
Founded on January 15, 2008, the group has been designing programs to respond to their communities’ needs for over seven years. Staffed and led by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key affected populations, the organization focuses on HIV prevention for youth at high risk of contracting HIV, and on reducing the levels of stigma and discrimination experienced by PLHIV and KPs–such as Viet Nam’s LGBT communities, sex workers, and people who use drugs. The organization’s vision is: to become a fully sustainable CBO conducting successful evidence-based advocacy that helps protect the rights of PLHIV and KPs in accessing treatment.
Together with Asia Catalyst, Kid’s Sun Group is quickly realizing this goal.
This year, Kid’s Sun Group is one of eight CBOs from four Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Viet Nam, and Myanmar) participating in Asia Catalyst’s Regional Rights Training Program. The Regional Rights Training Program is currently building the capacity of CBOs to identify priority issues of discrimination against PLHIV in healthcare settings in their respective countries; conduct documentation that builds a solid evidence-base of rights violations; and carry out comprehensive human rights-based advocacy on the chosen priority issues.
Kid’s Sun Group is nearly halfway through the program. With Asia Catalyst’s support, they have chosen to focus on the issue of discrimination against women living with HIV when accessing sexual and reproductive health services in Viet Nam. According to the CBO’s research, “in certain provinces and cities around Viet Nam, thanks in part to the projects funded by PEPFAR and The Global Fund, stigma and discrimination toward PLHIV in health service centers has been significantly reduced…however, many healthcare workers still lack basic knowledge on HIV, which leads them to discriminate against many key populations.” Women living with HIV are particularly affected; Kid’s Sun Group reports, “according to 2012 research by The National Network of PLHIV in Viet Nam, many doctors advise women living with HIV to become sterilized or abort pregnancies due to their HIV status–a recommendation in stark contrast to globally accepted practices.”
To lay the foundation for effective advocacy, this quarter Asia Catalyst guided Kid’s Sun Group to draft a context analysis of its focus issue. The group concluded that, “while Viet Nam has made international commitments to respect non-discrimination and equal rights by being party to the ICCPR, ICESCR and CEDAW and has also promulgated the Law on HIV AIDS Prevention and Control, the law’s implementation has been weak and fails to protect the right of men who have sex with men and transgender persons”. The CBO also concluded that certain cultural norms, including the elevation of men above women in traditional Vietnamese society, will be a challenge when advocating for the health rights of women living with HIV.
Kid’s Sun Group is meeting these challenges head on. The group is in the process of conducting comprehensive interviews with twenty women living with HIV in four of Hanoi’s districts: Hoang Mai, Tu Liem, Dong Da and Tay Ho. The results of these interviews, and those of a widely distributed questionnaire developed with Asia Catalyst, will help form the basis of Kid’s Sun Group’s upcoming advocacy project, which will be supported by continued coaching and a sub-grant from Asia Catalyst.
As for the Regional Rights Training Program, Thanh Ho of Kid’s Sun Group says that “working with Asia Catalyst has helped us to gain key knowledge on discrimination and human rights frameworks, and to learn from and collaborate with other domestic and international organizations, such as our peers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and China…this will help us to grow our networks to mobilize new resources, especially because many of our sponsors in Viet Nam are reducing funding and may leave the country in the near future. We will apply the skills and knowledge learned with Asia Catalyst into making new projects for advocacy and community mobilization, projects that are both effective and truly community-led.”