India’s HIV-positive trans people find ‘new strength’ in technology

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10/15/2019

Shoved, cursed and ridiculed, Nisha’s hospital visits were always stressful as a transgender woman and got worse after she was diagnosed as HIV-positive. But a new app introduced as part of a drive to end an HIV epidemic in India by 2030 is providing her and the transgender community better access to doctors, lifesaving drugs – and hope – although it has raised concerns about digital privacy. India has the world’s third largest population living with HIV – 2.1 million people – according to UNAIDS, with recognition that help is needed in the transgender community where the prevalence is 3.1% compared to 0.26% among all adults. Nisha tested HIV positive last year after earning a living as a sex worker in New Delhi. On the job, she said, condoms would often break or she would not use one for more money. “That was a bad idea. I ended up with HIV. I felt suicidal after I found out,” Nisha, 29, a trans woman who goes by one name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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