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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sex work and HIV/AIDS in Vietnam : addressing mental and emotional needs of trafficking victims Luu, Man Ky


Poor mental health is a critical factor that can significantly impede reintegration success for many trafficked returnees. Sex trafficking is a highly traumatizing experience, and many victims of the sex trade describe feeling physically, psychologically and emotionally unwell at some stage of their post trafficking lives. These issues often develop during the period of exploitation, and intensify as they struggle to recover and reintegrate back into the society, mainly due to the stigma attached to their record as sex workers. In addition, their mental health worsens if they carry a sexually-transmitted disease, especially HIV/AIDS, which further heightens their distress and prevents successful reintegration efforts. Nonetheless, ensuring psychological support and counselling is not the norm in Vietnam due to the lack of trained professionals, and also cultural prejudice towards people with mental illnesses. Thus, in the absence of formal mechanisms of assistance and counselling, alternative instruments to help victims cope with psychological stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation should be promoted and supported. This study seeks to explore religion and spirituality as an alternative instrument to address psychological and emotional needs of HIV-positive victims of sex trafficking in Vietnam.

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