After supporting the LGBTQ+community for over 20 years, Mumbai based Humsafar Trust has recently opened a healthcare center. The center is India’s first holistic clinic that has been set up specifically for the LGBTQ+ community.
This healthcare center aims to help spread awareness and provide treatment for HIV. They also aim to do so with other health concerns that pertain to the community. This is because people from the community are treated without respect. They often fear going to the doctors or clinics because their sexual orientation or gender identity is in question. Sometimes it is even worse with humiliation or mockery.
Vivek Anand, the CEO of Humsafar Trust spoke to The Guardian. He states the difficulties faced by the LGBTQ+ community due to the lack of proper health treatment. “We have known days when trans communities could not get past the doors of any public healthcare deliveries in India. Security does not let them in,” he says.
To help make life easier, the Humsafar Trust ensures a friendly environment for the patients. Here, they shan’t be discriminated against or made to feel alienated. The clinic furthermore, has employed members from the LGBTQ+ community as receptionists, pharmacists, and counselors.
Based out of the trust’s office in Mumbai, the center will give free counselling and provide Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). ART is the use of HIV medicines to treat the infection, and is recommended for everyone who is infected with virus as it delays the progression of the disease.
The centre will be open for all, says Ashok Row Kavi, founder chairperson of the Humsafar Trust.
“Until now we would get testing done for the community members at our centre. If tested positive for the disease, they would be asked to go to Sion Hospital, but there was a huge dropout rate there. Because of how the community is perceived outside, a lot of these people wouldn’t seek treatment,” says Kavi in a statement.
In India, around 2.1 million people are thought to be HIV positive. The HIV treatments provided to the LGBTQ+ community is considered poor.
According to the 2016 Lancet paper on transgender health in India, about 59 per cent of the LGBTQ community is sent for HIV testing, but 67 percent of them haven’t received proper counselling about anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
Kavi also states how this clinic is a one-stop centre for pre-counselling, detection, counselling, and treatment for HIV patients in the community.
According to Dr Srikala Acharya of Mumbai District AIDS Control Society, there has been a decrease in the number of LGBTQ+ patients having HIV in over 20 years due to the intervention of community-based groups.