Bollywood actress opens India’s first LGBTI health center

Bollywood actress Richa Chadha opens India's first LGBTI health center (Photo: Twitter)

India’s commercial hub, Mumbai, on Thursday (6 March) welcomed the country’s first LGBTI health center.

One of India’s oldest LGBTI health organization, the Humsafar Trust, launched the pilot Integrated HIV clinic with help from an international NGO and state HIV group.

Bollywood star Richa Chadha cut the red ribbon on Wednesday.

The center will offer HIV prevention and treatment services to at-risk communities in Mumbai, including men who have sex with men.

It will also offer counseling and mental health advice.

‘It’s great that there can be a space where people can come forward without the fear of being judged, and get the mental and physical support they need’Chadha said, according to local media.

‘The Humsafar Trust has been working in this direction for many years, and has a sense of the problems that need to be addressed’.

There were 2.1 million people living with HIV in India in 2017 and 88,000 new infections, according to Avert.

About 2.7% of men who have sex with men were HIV positive.

Section 377

Last year, India’s Supreme Court dismantled a colonial-era anti-gay law and decriminalized gay sex.

The Supreme Court ruled the colonial-era law, which punished gay sex with up to 10 years in prison, was unconstitutional.

HIV and AIDS advocates also welcomed it as an important step in combatting India’s epidemic.

But, LGBTI Indians still face widespread stigma and discrimination. They are, therefore, often shy about visiting mainstream health services.

Chadha said since Section 377 has been repealed, NGOs and charities could open more such health centers.

They would help ‘bring more inclusivity and access’ Chadha said.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Sydney to build first-of-its-kind LGBTI health center

LGBTI health provider ACON marches in Sydney's Mardi Gras (Photo: Facebook)

Leading Australian LGBTI health organization, ACON, will build a dedicated LGBTI health center with the help of government funds in Sydney.

The health center will be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, ACON said in a statement released Friday (1 March).

The New South Wales government will first provide US$350,000 for planning.

Established in 1985, ACON offers services for the LGBTI community including HIV prevention, HIV support, sexual health, and mental health.

ACON Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Parkhill said mainstream health professionals did not always understand the specific needs of LGBTI people.

‘Our vision for this Health Centre is that LGBTIQ+ people feel safe, understood and included as they seek health care’ he said.

‘Through the establishment of a multi-disciplinary, community-driven health service, we know we can make a meaningful contribution to addressing the significant gaps in health service delivery for LGBTIQ+ people and their families’.

He said there were signs that mental health problems of LGBTI Australians were increasing.

‘Through the Centre, we aim to directly improve access to care that is appropriate, inclusive and responds to the particular drivers of poorer health outcomes for our communities’.

Independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, welcomed the new center.

‘For the LGBTI community to have a dedicated health centre, it’s going to be vital for both their health and wellbeing’ he wrote on Twitter.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Trump plans to announce ending HIV transmissions by 2030 in State of the Union

A red ribbon hangs at the White House for World HIV/AIDS day.

Donald Trump is planning on announcing the United States’ goal of ending HIV transmissions by 2030 in his State of the Union address on Tuesday (5 February).

Politico first reported the news, confirming with ‘four individuals with knowledge of the planned remarks’.

Trump reportedly has a 10-year plan for directly addressing the HIV crisis within the US. Part of the plan includes focusing on communities with disproportionately higher risks of infection, despite consistently ignoring the LGBTI community in discussions of HIV.

This portion would take up the first five years, with an ultimate goal of stopping new transmission by the end of the 10-year plan.

While the speech is not finalized, two people within the Department of Health and Human Services reportedly said they are pressing Trump to include the strategy.

Is Trump listening to the advice of HIV organizations?

According to the CDC, 38,739 people within the US and dependent territories received HIV diagnoses in 2017. They also estimated that 1.1 million people in the US were living with HIV at the end of 2015, the most recent year such information is available.

This plan is consistent with other countries and organizations targeting the end of HIV transmissions.

Recently, the UK government announced their plans for zero HIV transmissions by 2030.

Organizations like UNAIDS have similar goals. While they also want to end transmissions in 11 years, they are working on a shorter-term goal as a step forward.

Known as 90-90-90, this plan has three parts to achieve by 2020. This includes 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of all infected individuals receiving ‘sustained antiretroviral therapy’, and 90% of such people having ‘viral suppression’.

GSN contacted UNAIDS for a response to Trump’s reported speech.

A checkered history

The Trump administration’s relationship with HIV — and the people most susceptible to transmission — has been fraught.

They have both continued funding years-long programs of HIV research and treatment, while also cutting funding to other HIV programs. Bill Gates also said he once had to explain the difference between HIV and HPV to Trump.

The Human Rights Campaign responded to the planned speech by calling out the administration’s threats to healthcare.

‘If this administration wants to combat the spread of HIV, they need to immediately end their efforts to cut Medicaid funding, undermine the Affordable Care Act and license discrimination against the most at-risk communities when they seek healthcare,’ said David Stacy, HRC’s Director of Government Affairs.

‘This administration simply cannot achieve this goal while, at the same time, charging forward with attacks on health care for the communities most impacted by HIV.’

Last year, Trump issued a new domestic gag rule targeting women and LGBTI people’s healthcare. He has also introduced plans to cut trans people’s healthcare.

GSN reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive one by the time of publication.

See also

6 ways the US healthcare system is failing LGBTI people

Major breakthrough: Scientists succeed in destroying HIV-infected cells

President Donald Trump fired two Air Force members because they are HIV+

Author: Anya Crittenton

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