HIV/AIDS-Related Knowledge and Behaviors Among Most-at-Risk Populations in Vietnam

Taryn Vian*, 1, 2, Katherine Semrau1, 2, Davidson H Hamer1, 2, 3, Le Thi Thanh Loan4, Lora L Sabin1, 2
1 Center for Global Health and Development, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
2 Department of International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
3 Infectious Diseases Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
4 Ho Chi Minh City Statistical Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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© Vian et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Crosstown Building, Room 375, Boston, MA 02118, USA; Tel: 617-414-1447; Fax: 617 638-4476; E-mail:


The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has supported the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MOH) in implementing behavior change strategies to slow the HIV epidemic. These programs target commercial sex workers (CSW), injection drug users (IDU), and men who have sex with men (MSM). Using data from a program evaluation to assess effectiveness of the PEPFAR intervention, we conducted a sub-analysis of HIV/AIDS knowledge, sexual behaviors, and injection drug risk behaviors among 2,199 Vietnamese respondents, including those reporting recent contact with an outreach worker and those who did not report contact. We found overall high levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge, low rates of needle sharing, and moderate to high rates of inconsistent condom use. Average knowledge scores of IDU were significantly higher than non-IDU for antiretroviral treatment knowledge, while MSM had significantly less knowledge of treatment compared to non-MSM. HIV/AIDS-related knowledge was not significantly associated with needle-sharing practices. Knowledge was modestly but significantly associated with more consistent use of condoms with primary and commercial sex partners, even after controlling for contact with an outreach worker. Contact with an outreach worker was also an independent predictor of more consistent condom use. Outreach programs appear to play a meaningful role in changing sexual behavior, though the effect of outreach on IDU risk behaviors was less clear. More research is needed to understand the relationship between outreach programs and skill development, motivation, and use of referral services by most-at-risk populations in Vietnam.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, sex behavior, health communications, Vietnam, injection drug users, commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, most-at-risk populations..