Information obtained in this qualitative study relied on in-depth interviews and group discussions with the participation of 49 subjects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. These included sex workers (30), male partners (3), health workers (5) and HIV/AIDS project managers (2). Additional information on health care services for HIV/AIDS women were also obtained by visits to the health facilities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
HIV/AIDS women usually found difficulty in accessing to health care services, particularly reproductive health care. They have faced discrimination, misconduct behavior, and higher health service payment when admitted to hospitals. Mistreatment somehow happened to them as well. Hospital based contraceptive methods were not usually available for HIV/AIDS women when unwanted pregnancy occurred. Guidance and counseling on ARV use, self-care, and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV could be accessible at health care facilities; however, HIV/AIDS carriers often received poor or insufficient guidance or information when needed due to limitation of knowledge, understanding, and experiences of consultants. Health programs for pregnant HIV/AIDS women and their children were usually short-term or insufficient due to their policy of one-time care or treatment during pregnancy. In addition, family planning programs usually provided HIV/AIDS patients with contraceptives but follow-up or later monitoring for effectiveness were often not included. Additionally, the current health policies for HIV/AIDS people do not support them as expected due to lack of law enforcement.
Limitations: (i) subjectivity is usually the limitation of a qualitative study; (ii) the study population dominated by a subgroup of female sex workers with low education level might not represent for HIV/AIDS women at large; (iii) information bias seemed to exit. HIV/AIDS women might have wanted to attribute any misconduct behaviors from others to your disease.
The study pointed out major issues that women with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam have faced at their daily life, especially difficulties in access to health care services. This subgroup needs to be supported medically and financially. To do so, supportive policies for people with HIV/AIDS should be improved and enforced to meet their needs.