HIV may afflict almost half Asia-Pacific transgenders: UN

May 16, 2012

Nearly half of transgender people in the Asia-Pacific region could have HIV as poor healthcare and high-risk lifestyles push infection rates to "critical levels", a UN report said Thursday.

The region's estimated 9-9.5 million transgender population is "bearing the brunt of the ", the UN Development Programme study said, adding that figures suggest 49 percent of the community could be infected.

The figure is drawn from anecdotal evidence of infection rates among trans-women -- men who become women -- taken from the "scattered and often small-scale research" available across the region, the UNDP said.

Report author Sam Winter, of Hong Kong University, urged governments to take note of the "burning need to address a very human crisis", pointing out many transgender people end up working as prostitutes and having .

", poverty and contribute to what we call a 'stigma sickness slope' -- a downward spiral that is difficult to reverse," he said in the "Lost in Transition" study.

Transgender people also routinely suffer violence and prejudice while being offered narrow and scant psychological support, the report found.

Billed as the region's most comprehensive study, the report collates information from the last 12 years, painting a picture of hardship for many transgender people, who lack basic healthcare and emotional help.

It recorded cases of "backyard" sex change surgery including castration and the widespread use of unsafe industrial silicone for among those who cannot afford quality healthcare.

Often transgender people leave home at a young age in response to family disapproval, drop out off school because of bullying and struggle to find work, which pushes them into prostitution, it said.

But the study also highlighted positive developments, noting an increasingly confident transgender identity has taken root. It also detected greater will from the community to engage with mainstream services and policy discussions.

"The creation of advocacy networks, community-based organisations and non-government organisations devoted to empowering our communities is a source of joy," according to Thai transgender activist Prempreeda Pramoj Na Ayutthaya.

Explore further: Safer sex: Study examines sexual communication in transgender community

Related Stories

A first-of-its-kind study of transgender health

November 21, 2011

Kerith Conron, an associate research scientist at Northeastern’s Institute on Urban Health Research, conducted a unique study of transgender health in Massachusetts and identified social and economic inequities that ...

LGBT seniors face harder old age, national study finds

November 16, 2011

Aging and health issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender baby boomers have been largely ignored by services, policies and research. These seniors face higher rates of disability, physical and mental distress ...

Recommended for you

Study unlocks secret of common HIV strain

October 13, 2016

A discovery that the most common variant of the HIV virus is also the "wimpiest" will help doctors better treat millions of individuals around the world suffering from the deadly disease, according to one of the world's leading ...

Children could point the way to new HIV treatments

September 29, 2016

Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers ...

Broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies pave the way for vaccine

September 26, 2016

A small number of people infected with HIV produce antibodies with an amazing effect: Not only are the antibodies directed against the own virus strain, but also against different sub-types of HIV that circulate worldwide. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.