Free HIV screening facility for transgenders demanded

PESHAWAR – Civil society organisations have demanded of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to provide a free screening of HIV, counselling and medical services to the transgender community in hospital across the province.

The demand was made by representatives of civil society organizations during a consultative dialogue of multi-stakeholders conference, organized by a non-governmental organization here at the Peshawar Press Club on Friday.

TransAction Alliance President Farzana Jan, Blue Veins program Coordinator Qamar Nasim, Mufti Jamel, a religious scholar, Gul Haider of Youth Gleam Organization, Taimur Kamal coordinator of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, Radesh Singh Tony, and project director on HIV/AIDS Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Dr Saleem were some keynote speakers.

Besides, member of civil society, social activists, lawyers, workers of various political parties, and others were also present in the consultative session.

Qamar Nasim highlighted that the transgender community in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa experience high levels of stigma, discrimination, gender-based violence and abuse, marginalization and social exclusion that turn them unable to access services, damages their health and well-being, and puts them at higher risk of HIV AIDs.

He said the transgender community is particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDs.

He urged the provincial government to take proper measures to address the issue, which could enable the transgender community members to remain safe from the mortal disease, he added.

He also demanded of the government to ensure them access to free screening, counseling, and medical services without facing any stigma, violence or abuse.

Nasim welcomed the resolution was moved by an MPA in the provincial assembly, calling HIV as major health concern among the transgender community in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He noted that the HIV risk is related primarily to sexual behaviors, especially unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, but other structural factors transgender also makes Trans community vulnerable to HIV, but no major steps have been taken by the provincial assembly to deal with this situation, he added.

Farzana Jan spoke attributed that due to lack of awareness among the transgender community, remaining away from testing and revealing their HIV/AIDS status, accessing HIV health care remained another challenge.

Mufti Jamel said that the transgender community was being faced discrimination, limiting their educational and economic opportunities.

He added the community confronts problems like access to basic facilities, services and being in public spaces.

Jamel also urged the government to ensure basic facilities, especially health services, to the transgender community, like common citizens avail in the country.

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