Transgendered people at high risk of HIV/AIDS, STDs

RAJSHAHI, Miss Piya, 24, is very much conscious

about maintaining her sound health. As a communicator, she always shares her best practices among her friends, partners and other target people for their behavioral change.

Piya, a transgendered, now works as a peer educator at a local non-

government development organization working for protecting the transgendered and sexual minority population from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

She says the vulnerable group people can protect them from various

diseases if they maintain health related rules and regulations as most of them are habituated to high risk behaviors.

Improving knowledge, creating awareness and behavior change can be

effective means of reducing their vulnerabilities. "We always encourage our clients to use condom during sex, but unfortunately many of them ignore the request whimsically," Sathi, 24, another transgendered, told BSS in an exclusive interview in Rajshahi city.

She said the transgender people have now become more or less aware about prevention of the STDs and HIV/AIDS or its transmission to their clients by dint of various government and non-government level interventions. But, hundred per cent condom promotions are not being taken place due to non-cooperation of the clients.

Clients need to understand the importance of condom use. Education,

awareness and necessary information on the risks to HIV/AIDS need to be widely disseminated among not only sex workers but also clients to ensure improved condom use.

Sathi among many others in the metropolis, sell anal and oral sex as means of their livelihood.

Dr Ashraf Siddikey, Associate Professor of Sex, Skin and Venereal Diseases of Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital (RMCH), said transgender is a hormonal disability like different other physical and mental disorders. But, most of the mainstream people have no idea about it. As a result, the transgender people are subjected to disparity in society and also become stigmatized and victimized frequently.

He, however, said "Anal sex has ten times more risks of infection and spread of sexual transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS for both sex-workers and clients than that of vaginal ones".

Dr Siddikey said sex workers remain in one of the high risk groups, with increasing rates of infections. Particularly, street sex workers are the most vulnerable groups towards STDs. Unsafe sex and careless lifestyle become a part of their life. Commercial sex plays a critical role in the heterosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS.

He mentioned that although there is low prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the city, it is very vulnerable as the number of injecting drug users, floating male, female and transgender sex-workers are rising day by days and due to high prevalence in the neighbouring country.

Advocate Shamsunnanar Mukti, a human rights activist, stressed creating an enabling environment in terms of proper treatment, free medicine, free condom, awareness programme and blood test for them.

She articulated that their rights like human dignity, to work, equality and non-discrimination, freedom from all sorts of abuse and manipulation, equal access to education, security of person and property must be ensured.

Mohona, president of Dinar Alo Hijra Sangha (DAHS), said they face many problems, as they are still deprived of basic rights since their third gender identity is yet to be implemented. "The government should give us third gender identity through parliament," she added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)