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Sexual Health and Men Who Have Sex with Men in Vietnam: An Integrated Approach to Preventive Health Care

DOI: 10.1155/2012/796192

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Background. While HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Vietnam has received increasing attention, most studies focus on HIV knowledge and established risk factors such as injection drug use. This paper proposes to address HIV risk among MSM from an integrated approach to preventive care that takes into account syndemic conditions such as substance use, mental health, and stigma, the latter of which prevents MSM from accessing health services. Method. Current studies related to MSM in Vietnam from 2000 onwards, gathered from peer-reviewed as well as non-peer-reviewed sources, were examined. Results. HIV and STI prevalence among MSM varied significantly by location, and yet HIV prevalence has increased significantly over the past few years. Most studies have focused on sexual risk behaviors, paying little attention to the broad spectrum of sexual health, including noninjecting drug use, heavy alcohol consumption, high rates of mental health distress and anxiety, and stigma. Conclusion. Future research and interventions targeting MSM in Vietnam should address their vulnerability to HIV from an integrated approach that pays attention to both sexual health and syndemic conditions. 1. Introduction Research studies have shown that men who have sex with men (MSM) have unique health-care needs and that interventions focusing on this group should address these needs [1, 2]. MSM have been significantly affected by HIV epidemics all over the world. Research on MSM has found that the epidemics are reemerging in many wealthy countries and that many developing countries are paying more attention to the HIV epidemic among MSM [3]. A critical study on MSM in developing countries showed that the possibility of MSM being HIV infected was much higher than that of the general population [4]. In Asia, an association between HIV infection and drug use, including both injection and noninjection use, has been found [5]. However, non-injection drug use has been an increasingly important risk factor for HIV infection among MSM, whereas injecting drug use is thought to have a limited impact on the spread of HIV among this group [6]. Recreational drug use, especially the use of ecstasy and methamphetamines and alcohol use, is becoming increasingly common and is an important factors contributing to unprotected receptive anal intercourse [5, 7, 8]. The impact of substance use and myriad syndemic conditions has resulted in an alarming increase in HIV infection in Southeast Asia [9]. There are a number of studies on HIV infection among MSM in Vietnam, yet

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