MSMGF, in partnership with GLink and Lighthouse, hosted a three-day “training-of-trainers” for eleven MSM advocates in Ho Chi Minh City to impart methods, content, and facilitation skills when working with health care providers. Both MSM-led organizations joined MSMGF’s in-country Bridging the Gaps Program in Vietnam in 2016 and are running an exciting project to train and sensitize health care providers on improving and delivering services to men who have sex with men (MSM) without stigma and discrimination. The project includes developing guides, methodologies, content, and training tailored to improve healthcare providers’ knowledge and skills.
The three-day workshop is a cornerstone activity with a participatory approach that includes adult learning techniques, presentations styles, group discussions, role-plays, fun and interactive activities, and thoughtful conversations guided by the facilitators to motivate participants, share information and tools, and reflect on the lives of men who have sex with men. The workshop integrates sessions on themes and areas that these trainees will be covering when working with healthcare providers across the country, such as:
- Understanding sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI);
- Understanding the unique needs of men who have sex with men;
- Working with key populations such as men who have sex with men;
- Identifying barriers to access to health care;
- Understanding the impact of stigma and discrimination on men who have sex with men’s health;
- Providing adequate HIV programs and services for men who have sex with men;
- Designing strategies to improve outreach and communication with men who have sex with men; and
- Creating friendly environments for marginalized communities.
Once participants had strengthened their knowledge and had acquired new tools, they put them into practice by doing teach-back sessions. They were then able to receive feedback from the facilitators and other participants on style, presence, and knowledge. Among other things, advocates shared advices on strategies to handle difficult participants, inspire active participation, and how to encourage a safe space for discussions and exchanges of ideas. Participants also validated the training curriculum by tailoring sessions and adapting content adequate to the context and needs of their audience.
By the end of the training, advocates had developed an action plan to assess participating healthcare centers, conduct client surveys of MSM who access HIV and other health related services, train healthcare providers, and follow up with technical assistance available to the healthcare centers. Lighthouse will work with two healthcare centers in Hanoi and GLink will cover three in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017; both cities have the highest HIV prevalence among MSM, 4.5%, and 13%, respectively.
The participants are motivated young gay men that work with MSM-led organizations to reduce new HIV infections among MSM by providing HIV services and advocating for policies to ensure services free of stigma and discrimination. What lies ahead for them is to train healthcare providers to make meaningful changes to processes and protocols in their clinics. The advocates are confident with the skills and knowledge they have developed to work in challenging environments. They hope their work will contribute to reducing the stigma and discrimination men who have sex with men and gay men face when they access healthcare services in Vietnam.
MSMGF is an expanding network of advocates and other experts in sexual health, LGBT/human rights, research, and policy, working to ensure an effective response to HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men. We are directly linked with more than 130 community-based organizations, across 73 countries.
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)
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