Hang is a Project Assistant with the Healthy Markets team in PATH Vietnam, working on improving access to health-related goods and services. The Healthy Markets program aims to grow a viable commercial market for HIV-related goods and services to meet the need of vulnerable populations in Vietnam.
Hang began working with PATH seven years ago, responding to two high priority areas of communicable disease control: HIV and TB. Her experience brought her to continue pursuing projects in HIV, currently with the USAID-backed Healthy Markets project. Joining the project at its inception, Hang is familiar with the challenges of implementing a public health intervention aimed at under-served and stigmatised communities. “People think it’s very complicated to get an HIV test; that they need to go to the hospital to get tested. Maybe the hospital or clinic isn’t the right place to carry out testing”.
Hang explains that while some members of the community may want to know their HIV status, they may face barriers to doing so, such as local sensitivities or fear of stigmatisation. Hang’s work in Healthy Markets is aimed at overcoming these obstacles to getting tested, by introducing HIV rapid test kits in partnership with a community-based organisation (CBO). By approaching the target population from within the community, the project has been widely successful in accessing under-served groups. The reaction has been very positive, with participants seeking out testing in safe spaces at CBOs, with fast turn-around of test results.
Healthy Markets is working towards empowering local organisations to develop more sustainable practices in providing health-related products and services, with the introduction of profit-making mechanisms and services. The goal of increasing market share of private sector services in HIV-related goods is supported by PATH through technical support and coaching for private companies emerging in the market. The result is the emergence of HIV prevention products which are non-subsidised, where prevention tools were previously predominantly subsidised.
Hang continues to support local projects in HIV, working in close alignment with the community in overcoming barriers to health.
This series of blog posts was produced with a fellow PULSE10 volunteer, also working for PATH based out of Hanoi. Check out more profiles on Nadine’s blogs, linked here.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the opinions of PATH or GSK.