By Asim Nawaz Abbasi
Islamabad – A survey conducted by Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance (IBBS) says that 36000 transgender persons in major cities of Pakistan are reported to have HIV positive. These alarming facts were revealed by Dr. Baseer Achakzai Manager National Aids Control Programme (NACP) on Friday 25th November.
Manager NACP Dr Baseer Achakzai was speaking at launching ceremony of Transgender Network Pakistan. Dr Baseer said that the actual number of cases would definitely be high than the registered numbers as the reported data was collected from 23 big cities like Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan and Lahore. According to him, transgender persons are affected by HIV 49 times more than the other population; Overlapping social, cultural, legal and economic factors are main reason to it.
He said we need to focus on educating transgender groups regarding prevention with increased employment opportunities to address the specific needs of transgender people. Providing equal health care facilities is also the basic thing in this regard he added.
Mark of disgrace associated with transgender people, marginalization and social exclusion puts them in further danger and risk of HIV he said.
Representative from WHO Dr. Assai Ardakani lauded the formation of Transgender Network Pakistan that will empower transgender community. He urged the community to raise their voice for this important section of the community to make people understand that Transgender are part of this community.
“As others do, transgender community must be aware of disease transmission and we hope to reach a day that there is not a single transgender suffering from AIDS,” Dr Assai said.
Dr. Assai Ardakani termed the judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan a landmark achievement in which Transgender were declared as full and equal citizen of Pakistan. He also urge the government to take care of health needs and to avail a wide range of HIV prevention services which can be available to help them to maintain a life without HIV.
Country Head UNAIDS Dr Mamadou Lamine SAKHO said Pakistan is championing in the response to HIV & making progress towards protecting the rights of transgender community and this association will help further strengthen the capacities of this community to access to universal health coverage and precisely to HIV testing treatment, care and social support services.
Bubbli and Aisha while representing the Transgender Network in Pakistan gave an overall brief on the Transgender Association.
They said that the transgender individual in Pakistan faces multilayer social and legal discrimination.
“Violence, poverty, human rights violations, socioeconomic inequality, lack of education, insufficient legal services, deficit law enforcement institution are some of the significant barriers faced by transgender community in every day,” they added.