India’s first LGBTQ clinic and HIV treatment centre inaugurated in Mumbai
Around 20 years after the Humsafar Trust started a support group for gay men, male sex workers and transgenders, creating awareness about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the group inaugurated the country’s first HIV treatment centre and holistic clinic for the for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.
Based out of the trust’s office jn Mumbai, the centre will give free counselling and provide Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).
ART is the use of HIV medicines to treat the infection, and is recommended for everyone who is infected with virus and delays the progression of the disease.
The centre will be open for all, said Ashok Row Kavi, founder chairperson of the Humsafar Trust.
“Until now we would get testing done for the community members at our centre. If tested positive for the disease, they would be asked to go to Sion Hospital, but there was a huge dropout (rate) there. Because of how the community is perceived outside, a lot of these people wouldn’t seek treatment,” said Kavi.
Kavi added that the clinic would serve as a one-stop centre where pre-counselling, detection, counselling and treatment of HIV patients would be done.
Dr Srikala Acharya of Mumbai District AIDS Control Society said the number of HIV positive patients has decreased drastically over the past 20 years because of intervention by community-based groups.
“Out of 4,000 males who have sex with men who are screened regularly by us, only 253 tested positive according to recent figures,” said Acharya.