Times of India
01 December 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Naco Dehyphenates Categories To Check Spread Of Disease
India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has started differentiating between men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgenders.
With studies confirming that India’s transgender community is at highest risk of contracting the deadly HIV, Naco has rolled out standalone targeted interventions (TI) meant exclusively for them. As of now, interventions for this community are clubbed with those meant for MSMs. Only a single TI in Mumbai addressed the needs of transgenders, counselling them about risky sexual behaviour and treating them for HIV if found already infected.
Speaking to TOI, officials at Naco confirmed that there are two and three intervention sites for transgenders in Mumbai and Chennai, respectively.
Dr Charles Gilks, UNAIDS India head, had recently said, "Transgenders are the smallest group having the largest risk of HIV."
The 2010 UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic found that among the high risk group that got HIV infection in India last year – 9.2% were intravenous drug users, MSMs (7.3%) and female sex workers (4.9%). In comparison, a study conducted 250 transgenders in the Mumbai site found HIV prevalence to be as high as 16% among them, NACO officials said.
They added, "Besides their biological disposition to contracting the disease, they are also those who are involved in very high risk behavior. Some have even been involved in commercial sex activities. TIs are now being planned and put in place solely for this community." India doesn’t have any credible data of its transgender population. NACO estimates that India is home to 3.5 lakh MSMs involved in high risk behaviour.
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