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Awareness About HIV/AIDS is High Among the Transgenders: Survey

A huge majority of the transgender community in India is highly aware of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS and their prevention , says a survey by a Chennai-based NGO.

"Most of our sample population displayed very high awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. As much as 99 percent said that HIV/AIDS testing must be made mandatory and 83 percent said they used condoms during sexual activity," said R. Isabel, executive director of the Madras Christian Council of Social Service (MCCSS) that conducted the survey among 200 members of the transgender community.

The MCCSS, which works on issues like human trafficking and prevention of HIV/AIDS, circulated a questionnaire about the views and aspirations of the members of the community - thousands of whom have gathered from across India near Villipuram town, 150 km from Chennai, for their annual Koovagam festival.

While the NGO distributed 500 questionnaires, 200 transgenders actually responded.

According to Isabel, 77 percent of the respondents were aged between 20 and 40 years and over 60 percent had studied upto Class 12.

"It is then that their lives change and they drop out of education," Isabel told IANS here.

A majority 64 percent revealed that they came to know of their gender problem only during adolescence and over 60 percent admitted that they were unhappy to learn of it.

A huge 58 percent said they were rejected by their families and friends as soon as their gender status was known and added they were still existing in the fringes of society despite positive intervention from NGOs and the government.

Sixteen percent stressed that trangender people not be thrown out by parents as they too are individuals with emotional needs and aspirations. Many demanded reservation in educational institutions and jobs, and have underlined the need for a census of the transgender population of the country.

The respondents were also asked whether they were aware of the illegal trafficking of transgender.

"Most had little knowledge about this but said they had heard some transgenders in Mumbai and big metros were involved in trafficking," Isabel said.

A large chunk of the community said they continued to experience a sense of exclusion and rejection.

"The community was confused about themselves and society is confused about them," Isabel said quoting citing the study.


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