LGBTs demand better access to medical services

Published: July 11, 2011

Mumbai On July 2, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community celebrated two years since the Indian courts decriminalised same sex sexual activity. But access to health care services, to tackle the high incidence of HIV among the community, has still not been addressed.
 The HIV prevalence among the LGBT community is 7.3 per cent, disproportionately high compared to the national average of 0.31 per cent. According to figures given by the NACO (National Aids Control Organisation) about 1.5 million transgender people and 30.5 million MSMs (men having sex with men) in India are susceptible to HIV and STDs.” The major cause of such a high prevalence of HIV among the MSM is promiscuity. A large number of transgenders are sex workers with multiple partners, both male and female, which spreads the disease. Apart from HIV, there are other STDs rampant among MSM which need to be taken seriously,” said Dr H R Jerajani, Head of Dermatology, Sion Hospital.
 
“Due to the social stigma and lack of understanding about MSMs, this group finds it difficult to access public health services. Doctors are not sensitised enough to deal with MSM patients. Transgender and MSM patients are harassed in public hospitals where they have to run around just to fill an application,” said Pallav Patankar, Director HIV Programs, Humsafar Trust.
 
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