New campaign seeks to normalize use of condoms in Vietnam

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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam on Saturday said it has launched a campaign calling for better HIV prevention among Vietnamese youth through the use of condoms.

Around 0.53 percent of people between 15 and 49 years of age in Vietnam are infected with the sexually transmitted virus, according to figures from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

Only half of Vietnamese males between 15 and 24 years old know how to prevent HIV infection through sex, the figures showed. The rate is 42.3 percent among Vietnamese female of the same age group.

The HIV infection rate is especially high among homosexual men, only 40 percent of whom used condoms while having sex, according to the US-based Population Services International.

Nguyen Thi Hue of the Ho Chi Minh City AIDS Prevention Committee said 10 percent of homosexual men in Vietnam have HIV, as recorded from many cities and provinces.

Experts with the campaign said using condoms is the easiest, most simple method for safe sex, but many Vietnamese are still shy about purchasing it or talking about it.

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Josselyn Neukom, director of Population Services International in Vietnam, said the "Live Modern" campaign was initiated to reduce discrimination on the purchase of condoms and carrying them along.

She said people will protect themselves better if they consider condoms a normal product.

The campaign will last for more than three months in Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and provinces including Quang Ninh and Lao Cai in northern Vietnam, Nghe An in the north central, and An Giang in the Mekong Delta.

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