More gay, transgender people taking voluntary HIV tests

Published: June 20, 2013

An increasing number of gay and transgender people in Bali are taking voluntary HIV tests, showing significant progress in HIV/AIDS mitigation efforts on the island, revealed a survey funded by AUSAID.

Gaya Dewata Bali Foundation, the advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in Bali, conducted the AUSAID-funded survey in Denpasar municipality, Badung and Gianyar regencies between mid-May and early June this year.

There were 400 respondents, comprising 57 percent gay, 27 percent transgender, and 16 percent bisexual people.

The survey revealed that most of the respondents had taken an HIV test, including 85 percent of the gay community, 80 percent of the bisexual community and 85 percent of the transgender community. Those who had not taken the test said they were still reluctant due to fear of positive results, while some were still unaware of the availability of HIV tests.

“The have been more HIV/AIDS cases detected due to the increasing awareness among the gay, transgender and bisexual communities, who take HIV tests voluntarily,” said Gaya Dewata Bali Foundation director Christian Supriyadinata.

He pointed out that more accessible voluntary HIV counseling and testing services at community health centers had helped facilitate examinations.

Christian also said that medical workers were showing improved manners. “Previously, these medical workers asked things that might bring discomfort to the people who came for HIV testing. However, today, it has changed. They prioritize providing counseling, and do not scrutinize sexual relations or orientation,” he said.

Christian also highlighted that condom usage had increased rapidly in the past two years, from only 20 percent to an average of 68 percent. He was optimistic that within the next five years, HIV/AIDS cases in Bali would become stable and then decrease.

Transgender people had the highest rate of condom purchase at 68 percent, followed by bisexual people at 46 percent and gay people at 33 percent.

Within the gay community, condom usage depended on partner status. In a relationship with a steady partner, condom usage was rated at around 55 percent, while in relationships based on casual partners, condom usage was around 65 to 85 percent.

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