Reported by Biswajit Dash
Bhubaneswar, May 19:
Those looking for gay sex on the streets of the Odisha capital beware. About 30 transgenders in Bhubaneswar are afflicted with the deadly AIDS virus, NGOs working on the welfare of the transgenders say.
While there is nothing startling in transgenders, like men and women, getting afficted with AIDS, the gradual rise in the number of transgender AIDS patients is certainly a matter of grave concern, they maintain.
A senior official of Vishwa Jeevan Seva Sangha (VJSS), a city-based NGO, said his organisation is working on the lifestyle of about 300 transgenders of Khandagiri, Balianta and Patrapada areas in the state capital.
“Though we have been making them aware about the dangers of their sex life, we have failed in our efforts as nearly 16-17 of them have been found HIV Positive recently. These transgender patients have adopted homosexuality as their prime source of living,” he said.
Sources in another NGO said till date, seven transgenders have died of AIDS in the recent past due to their failure to adopt safe sex practices.
Of the total number of transgenders in the city, about 12 from Vani Vihar, Salia Sahi, Rasulgarh and Kalpana area have also been found afflicted with AIDS.
“Since there are no specific facilities available for the transgenders at government and private hospitals, there is every possibility of an alarming rise in the number of AIDS patients through these transgender patients in the state capital,” the sources added.
“There are about 500 transgenders living in Bhubaneswar of whem some are HIV Positive. If the state government makes an effort to give them alternative livelihood, these transgenders will refrain from homosexual activities and lead a normal life,” said Mira Parida, chairperson of Nikhila Odisha Trutiya Lingi Sangha.
Expressing displeasure over the gross apathy of the state government, she said it has neither included transgenders as beneficiaries under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana and nor provided them with a house under the Mo Kudia scheme.
“Besides, not a single scheme of OSACS is properly implemented as a result of which the life of these transgenders has become miserable,” she rued.
According to Sadhana Mishra, president of Sakha, a city-based NGO, OSACS has no programme for the transgenders. Besides, the schemes launched by OSACS are of no use to them.
“The state government has to take the blame for its failure in the implementation of programmes, which has forced transgenders to solicit customers for sex,” she pointed out.
When asked about the issue, a senior official of OSACS said he has no specific information about the number of transgenders in the state.
Though he said that OSACS has the information that some transgenders have been afflicted with AIDS, he refused to give the exact number of patients.