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Third gender and homosexuals at high risk of HIV/AIDS transmission



KATHMANDU: The third gender and homosexuals are at high risk of HIV/AIDS transmission due to unsafe sexual activities.

According to National AIDS and Venereal Disease Centre, Teku, 3.8 per cent of the total population of the third gender and homosexuals are at the high risk of HIV/AIDS infection. It is more than the women's population, who have made flesh trade, as their business.

A total of 1.2 per cent population of woman, who made flesh trade as their means of livelihood, are infected by HIV/AIDS.

Similarly, people at the drug abusing group are at the high risk of various diseases and 6.3 per cent of them are the victim of HIV positive.

Homosexuals and third gender people are seen walking on the streets making various groups in some major cities including Kathmandu, Dharan, and Pokhara, and they also adopted the sex trade as a means of their livelihood. Swastika Lama, a member of transgender group, said, firstly, the identity of transgender and homosexual people are not clear as such people are afraid of telling this in the family.

The transgender people are ousted in some cases from their homes when their guardians identify them. Therefore, they have a compulsion of living an isolated life from the family and the society.

We get a good job if we are educated but have the situation of being expelled from the job when our gender is identified and finally we have to opt for flesh trade as we find helpless for our livelihood for we have no means to sustain in the society, she said.

Educated third gender people in Nepal are fewer and that they are forced to accept the flesh trade to meet their daily needs and have the high risk of HIV transmission as they involve in sexual intercourse with many people, she added.

Another person (Third gender) Mukti Shah claimed that the third gender people have been at the high risk of HIV/AIDS because of the government's indifferent behavior and said, "I was in the government service, but was sacked when I told about my identity that I am from the transgender group."

The third gender people have been affected the most from the government, said Shah. They do not prefer flesh trade if the government brings programmes for the third gender and homosexual people, he added.

As many as 450,000 people have claimed themselves to be the third gender but they could not introduce themselves openly in fear of various reasons including social, religious, and cultural beliefs, said Madhav Dulal, Pahichan Programme Coordinator of the Blue Diamond Society.

Dulal pointed out the fact that the gays, who are living a dark life in the Nepalese society, cannot report that they are HIV positive even today though around 50 gays associated with the Society have been taking ARVT service. The number of HIV/AIDS infected gays is still uncertain, he added.

It is learnt that there are 48 ARVT service centers across the country. The government has been organizing various services like blood test, counseling, and awareness programmes, among others, to prevent people from HIV infection, said Senior Public Health Officer of the Centre, Shambhu Kafle.

According to a data collected in 2011, roughly 50,300 people are reported to be suffering from HIV/AIDS. But in a report made public until mid-July of the same year confirmed that some 21,000 people are found infected from HIV positive.

The number is reported to be decreasing of late due to different awareness programmes organized by the government and other social organizations to control the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexual diseases.

A report shows that some 50 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients are from Terai, while 16 percent in Kathmandu Valley, 16 percent in Far-western Development Region and the rest 18 percent in other hilly districts.

The Center has been providing HIV positive tests and counseling service from 219 places across the country. It has been operating 42 HIV/AIDS control centers to prevent disease from being transmitted to baby from its mother.

The service is provided from additional 5-7 places every year to further facilitate them, said Kafle, the Center's Senior Public Health Officer.

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