Surakarta transgender community
urges condom use

Dozens of transgendered people held a rally during World AIDS Day on Saturday at the Gladag traffic circle in Surakarta, Central Java, to draw attention to the importance of using condoms to avoid contracting the HIV virus.

The community is often repressed but put on a brave face to hold the rally, said Solo Transgender Association (Hiwaso) activist Lousiana Margaretha.

The HIV virus can be passed on by anyone, not just transgendered people. The public, however, often makes scapegoats out of transgendered people since the majority of them are sex workers, Lousiana added.

Hiwaso chairwoman Fernandes Chintya Maramis acknowledged that most transgendered people in Surakarta, as well as its surrounding regions such as Boyolali, Sukoharjo, Karanganyar, Wonogiri, Sragen and Klaten worked as sex workers. “But we always use condoms,” she said.

Besides the rally, Hiwaso has been campaigning on the use of condoms to sex workers. The campaign targets schools because some students, especially those in high schools, already engaged in sex with transgendered sex workers, she added.

A newly published United Nations report shows that the rate of new HIV infections in Indonesia increased by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2011. The increase has been attributed to the lack of public awareness, especially within high-risk groups such as sex workers, in the use of condoms. Data from the National AIDS Commission (KPA) shows that only around 40 percent of sex workers regularly use condoms. (han)

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