OBJECTIVES--Vietnamese immigration to the U.S. since the conclusion of the Vietnam war has been substantial and in Orange County, CA, Vietnamese Americans comprise 3% of the population (the largest community in the US). Our objective was to collect data on the HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes and self-reported high risk behaviours within this community. METHODS--A survey instrument was administered anonymously in Vietnamese to 532 respondents in their homes. Individuals from three population strata were randomly sampled: men 18 to 35 years old (N = 193); men 36 to 45 years old (N = 137); and women 18 to 35 years old (N = 202). Data were gathered on: (1) degree of acculturation; (2) knowledge and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS; and (3) self-reported sexual and other high risk practices. RESULTS--Survey data indicated that 38% of respondents were very worried about themselves and 83% were worried about a family member getting AIDS. Knowledge about actual modes of HIV transmission was generally accurate, but a substantial minority still believed that HIV can be transmitted through casual contact, and 68% from needles used in hospitals. Women demonstrated less accurate knowledge than men on five key items. Quarantine of the HIV infected was agreed to by 45%. Twenty-nine percent did not believe that the epidemic would affect them personally, and 49% stated that they did not have enough information about AIDS to protect themselves. Regarding sexual practices, 31% reported never having had sex. Of the others, 8% had two or more sexual partners in the prior 12 months. No same sex behaviour was reported. Six percent of men had visited a female prostitute; of these, 24% had visited 2 or more in the prior 12 months; half of encounters in this time period were outside the US. Substantial percentages of sexually active, unmarried respondents indicated that they never use (17-40%) or only sometimes use (10-32%) condoms. Less than 1% had used injection drugs. CONCLUSIONS--Education should be targeted at the Vietnamese community of southern California to improve knowledge that HIV cannot be contracted through casual contact, to convey information about methods for self-protection, and to reduce high risk sexual practices such as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners and sex with prostitutes.
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