Program in Vietnam Trains Haircutters To Provide HIV/AIDS Information to Clients
Sidewalk haircutters in the Vietnamese city of Hai Phong are volunteering as HIV/AIDS consultants as part of a program that aims to curb the spread of the disease, VNS/Viet Nam News reports. Hai Phong has 12 haircutting teams in the program, with 120 haircutters throughout the city, and each volunteer speaks to an average of 10 to 20 customers daily about HIV/AIDS-related issues such as testing and condom use. The program initially was launched by Family Health International and the city's Health Department in 2001, but FHI ended funding in 2005. According to an official with the city's HIV/AIDS Prevention Committee, the program has continued because of the voluntary participation of the haircutters. He added that the health department only provides no-cost leaflets to the program.
Nguyen Van Dien, a volunteer in the program for two years, said that licenses granted by the city to haircutters that allow them to work on some parts of city sidewalks have given the haircutters more stable incomes, which allows them to volunteer in the program. He added that the haircutters are "contributing to the HIV prevention campaign, and we feel that our work is more significant." Le Van Hien, a haircutter involved in the program, said that HIV/AIDS information and prevention methods are brought up in "normal conversation," which allows customers to "gradually get involved in stories and are confident to share their opinions."
Nguyen Quang Thinh -- director of Hai Phong's Reproductive Education Center -- said the haircutter volunteer "model works sustainably" because it reaches people from all social and economic groups. Nguyen added that the city authorities provided 10 million Vietnamese dong -- or about $600 -- to the program last year. The program will "continue to expand ... even though we have no more funds from international organizations," he said (VNS/Viet Nam News, 10/29).