My name is Thuan and I live in Vietnam. I am a male sex worker in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon. I grew up without my father and was raised by my mother and grandmother. They had to work very hard to raise me and my two brothers. When I was 22 years, my brother’s drug addiction turned the tide for my family. It put much pressure on us and my mother and grandmother faced many challenges. I decided to move to Ho Chi Minh City to find a stable job, mainly to support my relatives. When I arrived in that big city, I felt like a very tiny piece in a huge sand dune. I struggled to find a job, but nobody wanted to employ me. I sadly wandered along the streets, along big boulevards, and I felt very alone. One night my life completely changed, when I met a man who asked me to have sex with him in exchange for money. I didn’t have any money and decided to serve this man and be introduced to a brothel. So I became a sex worker. I try to find clients in the street or through online channels. But because I’m a male sex worker, I have to face stigma.
A friend told me he was living with HIV, because he lacked knowledge about prevention
I worked very hard for about two years. One day I received a shocking message from a close friend. He told me that he was living with HIV, because he lacked knowledge about prevention and had unsafe sex. Then I decided to find work to support and protect my colleagues. This is why I became an outreach worker. Now I implement communications activities about HIV prevention, including condom use, for my colleagues and other high-risk people. I’m also the leader of a male sex workers group. Becoming an outreach worker was a turning point in my life. I feel very happy now, also because I have a lover, my soul mate with whom I share my life. Each person is a grain of sand in a gigantic desert. If we know how to go along with the wind, someday we will be in heaven.