Any port in a storm: coming to terms with HIV in Lao PDR

Chris Lyttleton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), HIV/AIDS prevention programmes have largely focused on the dissemination of basic medicalised information. To date, these programmes have been spurred more by awareness of the increasing epidemics in countries surrounding Laos than epidemiological data from within its borders. As projects now begin to fine tune their approaches and concentrate on specific communities, a clearer understanding of sexual meaning and values is necessary. This paper considers the dynamics of sexual relationships established by men and women in nightclubs and drinkshops in Lao towns. Throughout Laos, social regulations foster an atmosphere wherein certain casual sexual interactions are built through negotiation. Moreover, these relations are established within a space marked by the avoidance of public scrutiny and personal responsibility. Despite uneven claims to influence, because neither identities nor outcomes are always fixed a discursive space is created for men and women that provides potential opportunity for notions of safe sex to be incorporated as an integral part of practice. Paradoxically, however, the very avoidance of public scrutiny that prompts this negotiation in the first place, denies an open legitimization of such practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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