Good-looking + extra cash = condom optional

The Indian state of West Bengal is initiating a HIV/AIDS prevention program that is directed specifically towards hijras. Hijras, having been shunned from their communities, typically settle for jobs that require little or no skill. As many have turned to prostitution, they now constitute the highest at-risk group for contracting the virus for several reasons:

  • They are frequently the receptive partners in oral and anal intercourse.
  • Condom use is inconsistent, and many hijras will allow unprotected sex for good-looking clients or for extra cash (if this does not scream at the need for sex education, I don't know what does!)
  • Water-based lubrication is expensive and hardly used, leading to damage of the anal tract (making it easier for transmission of the virus).
  • Men that use hijras are in a hurry to get the deed done with, and sex can be rough (again, damaging the anal tract)
  • Hijras do not receive as much money as their female counterparts, thus they must satisfy a greater number of clients to make as much money (and clients are easy to find, since Hijras are considered more sexually-skilled than female sex workers!)
Now that this initiative's been started, I think that it's time for the rest of South Asia to follow. It's time for the government to face the needs of this marginalized minority and acknowledge the hidden intricacies that the hijras are part of in society as a whole.

State to educate eunuchs about AIDS, sexual health

Project Parivartan

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