Vietnam Caritas providing medical care and education to AIDS patients

HIV/AIDS is an emergency in many parts of Vietnam and victims are often forced to live on the margins of society.

Jun 10, 2016

HANOI: HIV/AIDS is an emergency in many parts of Vietnam and victims are often forced to live on the margins of society. To address the situation, Caritas Vietnam has launched a programme to provide medical drugs, raise awareness, and restore patients’ sense of dignity.

Some eight dioceses are involved – Vinh, Hà N?i, B?c Ninh, H?i Phòng, Phát Di?m, Hu?, Nha Trang and L?ng S?n – with hundreds of volunteers already working with patients and young people through a response to the illness that is both educational, medical and humane.

H?i Phòng is one of the most active. Centred on the eponymous city (Vietnam’s third largest), the diocese covers three provinces. In the past few years, the disease has spread with the number of cases running in the thousands.

Local parishes have doubled their efforts to find benefactors, organisations and NGOs willing to care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and help them be part of society rather than a burden on their families.

The diocese offers courses for young couples who plan to get married, catechism, and infection prevention. Some Caritas members provide counselling and introduce patients to medical treatment, helping them overcome the sense of inferiority that often blocks them.

Fr Kien, director of the diocesan Caritas, has managed to provide bursaries to orphans or children of sick parents.

"We do not provide only material help,” he said. “We also offer spiritual encouragement. We have a supportive community and pray for each other." In An Hai parish, care is provided to some 150 patients.

"At present, discrimination of sick people is going down, but they still have the disease and receive no medical care,” said Sister Maria Tran, who deals with sick people in the Diocese of Lang Son. What is more, “They cannot even get a job to make a living in the city."

Hi?n and Hoa, 15, are twin sisters. "I'm not Catholic,” Hi?n told AsiaNews. “My father died of AIDS and now my sister and I live with our mother. Ever since I was a child I took part in the diocese’s social activities. Today, I still have hope in life, and I am looking for useful employment for myself and my family."

According to UNAIDS, a UN body, some 250,000 people have been infected with HIV in Vietnam.--Asia News

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