Jackie, a trans-woman and another 40-year-old homosexual man *Robin, shared their struggles to freely access health services at state facilities as homosexual men. Not only that, but they are also sex workers. Sex workers and homosexuals are particularly at higher risk of HIV/AIDS because of their lifestyles.
“I don’t know my HIV status. I’m scared of discrimination from the nurses and the reaction of people when I have to go to health facilities,” says Jackie who has been selling his body for money for the last four years. Unlike Jackie, Robin has been living with HIV for the past 20 years. Being gay and HIV positive has not been an easy journey, as he struggles with acceptance. Not self-acceptance but rather being accepted by society for who he is.
In 2010, Robin who has been on antiretroviral treatment since 1996, stopped going to state facilities to get antiretroviral medication after being discriminated against: “The nurse told me ‘God created you as a man, you can’t be gay, a sex worker and also infected with HIV.”
“That was the last time I ever went back for my ARVs because I was shattered." Robin comfortably seeks the services of traditional healers. “They give strong medicines to keep me healthy and I also buy things from the pharmacy to boost my immune system,” explains Robin. Read more via New Era