November 14–20 is Transgender Awareness Week – a time to raise the visibility of TG advocates and refocus global attention on the issues this community continues to face. When it comes to HIV in Cambodia, the TG community is considered one of the country’s most-at-risk populations. AUA is committed to projects that lessen the burden of stigma and discrimination on TG individuals, helping to remove barriers to HIV testing, care and treatment.
The Facts: The Transgender Community and HIV in Cambodia
A number of recently published studies and articles help shed light on HIV in Cambodia’s TG community – as well as exploring some of the issues that contribute to increased risk of infection.
- Rates of HIV infection among TG people in Cambodia are six times higher than the general population – 4.15% compared to 0.7%. [SOURCE].
- HIV infection rates among TG people are highest in Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. [SOURCE].
- TG women who are employed as entertainment workers are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection, with just 44% of respondents in one study reporting consistent condom use. [SOURCE].
- TG women who test positive for HIV are less likely to access services. In one study, just 48% of HIV-positive respondents were adhering to ARV treatment, and only 45% of participants had received information or assistance from an NGO. [SOURCE].
- TG women are particularly vulnerable to acts of physical violence. In one study conducted by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, 43% of the 153 TG people surveyed had been subjected to physical abuse. [SOURCE].
- TG women also face discrimination within the legal system. In the same study, almost 40% of respondents had been arrested, with the majority suspecting their TG identity was the sole cause of their arrest. [SOURCE].
According to USAID Global Health, transgender women are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general global population. In Cambodia, the TG community continues to face unique barriers to HIV care, treatment and prevention – many of which are perpetuated by discrimination and social stigma.
As part of our commitment to improving health outcomes for Cambodia’s most vulnerable populations, AUA will continue to work hand-in-hand with partner NGOs such as CamASEAN to reach more members of the TG community with messages of positive prevention. By advocating for PLHIV rights and access to quality healthcare, we will focus on empowering members of the TG community to make their voices heard. Importantly, AUA will continue to include members of the TG community in our meetings, workshops and events wherever possible to ensure that issues affecting the TG community are adequately represented, discussed and addressed.
For more information about transgender issues in Cambodia, we recommend reading ‘Being LGBT in Asia: Cambodia Country Report’ [PDF], published in 2014.
Lead photo credit: Sophea Pheung.