A 30-minute film based on real people who have HIV and face discrimination was screened at the Adora Premium Wedding Reception and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City on April 23, aiming to raise public awareness about discrimination against HIV carriers.

The film titled Coming Home is about a man named An who meets and falls in love with Lam at a birthday party. They have sex and later it is revealed via lab tests that An has HIV. Lam, who was the person who transmitted the virus, abandons An. Worse, his family also shunned him.

Nguyen Anh Phong, a representative of Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in southern region (VNP+), said that VNP+ made the film in cooperation with local actors and producers to raise public awareness about discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, especially high-risk groups including those in the LGBT community.

Phong said the LGBT community with HIV/AIDS suffers from double discrimination because of their gender and the disease.

Their families often ignore them, and as a result, they hide the disease and refuse ARV treatment because they are afraid of being revealed, he said.

Last year, a 27-year-old MSM (Men having sex with Men) who had HIV died because he refused treatment at a nearby community support and counselling centre, afraid that his family and friends would see him visiting the centre.

Benny Nguyen (his nickname), head of Song That (True Live) Group, which provides counselling on HIV preventive methods and treatment for MSM in the city, said that as MSM, the public, especially family members, abandon or shun them.

"It is more difficult when they are infected with HIV. There is nowhere for them to go. They need sympathy and encouragement from their family," he added.

Family is needed for moral support so they will follow their treatment regimen, he said.

As of September 30 last year, there were more than 224,000 people with HIV in the country, including more than 66,900 AIDS patients. MSM is one of the high-risk groups vulnerable to HIV infection, according to the Ministry of Health.

The film is part of VNP+'s Dai Bang Do (Red Ribbon) events, which call for the elimination of discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS.

It also aims to honour people who have made silent contributions to HIV/AIDS prevention in the country.

The Red Ribbon events are sponsored by the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.-VNA