Alcohol Abuse, Stigma and Sexual Risks: Triple Burden among MSM in Hanoi, Vietnam

MSM are one of the most at-risk populations for HIV infection and are highly stigmatized, yet few studies have examined alcohol use as a risk factor for sexual behavior. Focusing on the relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual risk taking among men who have sex with men (MSM) the Center for Community Health Research and Development (CCRD) will conduct the research “Alcohol Abuse, Stigma and Sexual Risks: Triple Burden among MSM in Hanoi, Vietnam”. 

This study will explore the impact that stigma has on alcohol consumption and sexual risks, and will recommend improved prevention activities targeting this population. The study’s hypothesis is that perceived stigma would influence their consumption of alcohol which in turn affects their sexual risk behaviors.
The specific aims of the study are:
1. To describe behavioral characteristics of MSM population in Hanoi, including the prevalence of high-risk alcohol drinking, multiple types of concurrent sexual risk, and levels of perceived and enacted stigma.
2. To describe the prevalence of negative medical consequences associated with behavioral risk among MSM population, including infections such as Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV-1.
3. To identify factors that affect levels of drinking among MSM, especially in relation to stigma and its mental health consequences, and to explore the linkages between high-risk alcohol drinking, stigma, and sexual behavioral risks.
The study is  expected to start implementation from December, 2009 and will last  one year with two major phases: (1) Community Assessment Process (CAP); and (2) Behavioral and Biological Survey (BSS).
(1)  Community Assessment Process (CAP)
This phase of the study aims to build entry into the network of MSM in Hanoi, to refine theoretical constructs and variables, as well as to adapt various parts of the survey instruments for the second phase.  CAP will be built around various qualitative methods, including field observation, key informant interviews and in-depth interviews. The research group expects the CAP phase will last about 3 months.
(2)  Behavioral and Biological Survey (BSS)
This phase of the study will address the three specific aims. In this study, we will employ RDS procedure to recruit a sample from MSM community in Hanoi. The research group expects that the BSS phase to will last for about 3 months.
Research to Prevention (R2P) is a USAID-funded task order under the Project SEARCH IQC, The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/ Center for Communication Program (CCP) is the prime contractor for R2P. The goal of the Small Grants Program is to strengthen in-country capacity to conduct HIV prevention research. R2P issued the Call for Proposals to 40 organizations that submitted letters in support of Johns Hopkins’ bid to USAID for this project. With projects from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia,  the Center for Community Health Research and Development (CCRD)  from Vietnam is one of only three awardees  of the 2009 round of R2P Small Grants Program due to their innovative research proposal described above. 
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