Journal Article


Holding the Line: Vietnamese Family Responses to Pregnancy and Child Desire When a Family Member has HIV

Published on 16 May 2008

Health services around the world offer many guidelines for HIV-positive women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant, and for women with HIV infected partners. These guidelines are addressed to women and, increasingly, also to men, but pay little or no attention to the role of other members of the family in fertility decisions. This study looked at factors influencing decisions about fertility in families with an HIV-positive member.

In Vietnam, the whole family takes a crucial role in deciding whether a woman should become pregnant and whether she will keep her child. This decision is taken in the context not only of the close family but also under the influence of ancestors and the weight given to them within the culture. Key in this regard is the need for parents and grandparents to have male offspring. Health workers share these ideas about preferred family composition and support men and women in the quest for male offspring. Policies and guidelines should take into account these additional family factors and goals as a basis for the design of appropriate programmes to reduce HIV transmission.


Pauline Oosterhoff

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Taylor and Francis
Oosterhoff, P., Nguyen, T. A., Ngo, T. H., Pham, N. Y., Wright, P. and Hardon, A.,
Culture Health and Sexuality, volume 10, issue 4