By Nam Pham
HA NOI – A consultation workshop regarding HIV/AIDS organised by the Centre for Community Health and Development (COHED) and the Irish Aid programme of the Government of Ireland was held yesterday morning in the capital.
Titled "Accessibility of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS to the existing micro-credit sources", the workshop aimed to assess the needs for micro-credit of people residing with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong city.
The workshop found that 70 per cent of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS were in need of micro-credit services; 40 per cent were unaware of micro-credit services; and most disturbingly, 64 percent thought that their HIV status prevented them from accessing micro-credit.
"The first difficulty is an inferiority complex; we're not sure if we'll be granted a loan. Secondly, if they know our HIV status and think that we can not pay back the loan, they will not approve our loan application", said an anonymous HIV sufferer from Hai Phong.
"HIV sufferers always have their own inferiority about their HIV status, so when they apply for a loan, they are afraid to explain their reasons," according to a workshop participant from Quang Ninh.
There is also a lack of clear policy among banks about issuing loans to HIV/AIDS sufferers, that leads to some credit officers creating more hurdles and paperwork in order to protect themselves in case the loans are not repaid.
Additionally, there is an existing stigma and discrimination against people residing with and affected by HIV/AIDS by micro-credit officers.
"We can't borrow anything, even we have our own houses, household registration books and land certificates. When I asked for a reason why, they said: 'What can you do to pay the money back?', shared a person living with HIV/AIDS.
Many suggestion and recommendations were made during the workshop which are all expected to contribute to a new HIV/AIDS policy which could greatly help improve the lives of those affected.
Among the guests at the workshop were Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and Nguyen The Hung, Vice director of Ha Noi's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.--VNS