Mapping for Engagement: Setting up a Community Based Participatory Research Project to Reach Underserved Communities at Risk for Hepatitis C in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nguyen Quoc G., Nguyen Le Thao M., Bao A., Nguyen Anh N., Vu Thi Tuong V., Nguyen Thi Ngoc D., Phan L., Phan Minh T., Lam Ngoc T., Nguyen Thanh A., Nguyen Anh T., Nguyen Nguyen Nhu T., Nguyen Thi L., Nguyen Thuy Thanh V., Nguyen Minh H., Nguyen Minh T., Do Thuy An M., Nguyen Tri T., Tran Thi P., Pham Hong S., Tran Thi N., Hoang Thai A., Duong Thi My H., Cooke GS., Chambers M., Van Nuil JI.
BackgroundApproximately 1. 07 million people in Vietnam are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). To address this epidemic, the South East Asian Research Collaborative in Hepatitis (SEARCH) launched a 600-patient cohort study and two clinical trials, both investigating shortened treatment strategies for chronic HCV infection with direct-acting antiviral drugs. We conducted ethnographic research with a subset of trial participants and found that the majority were aware of HCV infection and its implications and were motivated to seek treatment. However, people who inject drugs (PWID), and other groups at risk for HCV were under-represented, although injecting drug use is associated with high rates of HCV.Material and MethodsWe designed a community-based participatory research (CBPR) study to engage in dialogues surrounding HCV and other community-prioritized health issues with underserved groups at risk for HCV in Ho Chi Minh City. The project consists of three phases: situation analysis, CBPR implementation, and dissemination. In this paper, we describe the results of the first phase (i.e., the situation analysis) in which we conducted desk research and organized stakeholder mapping meetings with representatives from local non-government and community-based organizations where we used participatory research methods to identify and analyze key stakeholders working with underserved populations.ResultsTwenty six institutions or groups working with the key underserved populations were identified. Insights about the challenges and dynamics of underserved communities were also gathered. Two working groups made up of representatives from the NGO and CBO level were formed.DiscussionUsing the information provided by local key stakeholders to shape the project has helped us to build solid relationships, give the groups a sense of ownership from the early stages, and made the project more context specific. These steps are not only important preliminary steps for participatory studies but also for other research that takes place within the communities.