Tra Vinh      Ngoc Bien     Binh Ha Phoc    Mekong    Cu Chi & Cao Dai

Thoa giving Tam a ride on her motorbike.

Courtesy of the Population Council, I accompanied some of their representatives on a research trip to Tra Vinh city, Tra Vinh province, in the Mekong delta.

Thoa ('twa'), works for the provincial health ministry. Tam ('tum'), a sociologist from the north, was working on contract for the Population Council.

Thoa taking a lunchtime sip of coconut water.

Thoa and Tam light joss sticks at a temple near Tra Vinh dedicated to Ho Chi Minh.

Vietnamese temples are often devoted to the cult of leaders who led the Vietnamese against various invaders over the last millennium.

This temple, one of two dedicated to 'Uncle Ho,' was established within a mile of an American army base while the 'American War' was still being fought.

Crowds of Khmer speakers outside the door to an open-air theater, near An Luong pagoda, in which a play sponsored by the Population Council took place.

Performance of a play at a festival near An Luong pagoda, Tra Vinh province.

Commissioned by the Population Council from a popular Khmer-language traveling theater group, the play incorporates HIV/AIDS as a theme.

This scene portrays a high school love triangle: the studious boy (who later becomes a doctor), the charming playboy, and the girl they both love.

Later in the play, the heroine's drunkard father informs her that to pay his debts he has been forced to sell her to a brothel.

Ngoc Bien commune, Tra Vinh province, Mekong delta.

Sociologist Nguyen Thi Thanh Tam interviews villagers about their understanding of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted.

Tagging along with Population Council researchers, I found it fascinating to enter people's homes in this remote village at the ends of the delta.

Population Council researchers interviewing Ngoc Bien villagers about HIV/AIDS.

This was the first of two planned series of interviews. Some months later, after the play commissioned by the Council had played in the area, researchers returned to the same area to test how effective the play had been in informing people about the issue.

Researchers interviewing Ngoc Bien villagers about their understanding of the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Some respondents were quite well informed, others not at all. One told the story a man who had contracted HIV from a prostitute in Phnom Penh, but avoided contracting AIDS by cutting off his penis.

Inside a house in Ngoc Bien Commune, beneath the prominently displayed photograph of an ancestor, a Khmer researcher interviews a man about his understanding of the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

A commune in rural Vietnam is a large administrative district usually including many agricultural villages and processing industries.

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