City-Scape Ho Chi Minh City: The transgender population in Ho Chi Minh City and the challenges in HIV, health, and human rights

By August 4, 2014 Publications

The 2010 report on the MSM and Transgender Multi-City HIV Initiative stated that a city approach is particularly relevant in HIV as cities are where large numbers of people move to for work and education, and where anonymity enables a more open expression of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The mounting epidemics of HIV among MSM and transgender people in Asia are most acute in urban settings. In countries where cross-sectional studies of HIV prevalence amongst MSM have been conducted in multiple locations, HIV prevalence has generally been found to be higher in the largest cities. There is no single HIV epidemic among MSM across the region, but rather a number of localised epidemics which are likely to be linked. Increased mobility within and between countries may result in HIV transmission spreading between MSM communities in different cities and countries. While comparable studies have not been carried out with the transgender community in Vietnam, it is likely that similar patterns of movement and HIV vulnerability would be found among transgender people. In addition, cities have specific needs and often have the authority to plan and fund localised responses, providing opportunities for the implementation of innovative approaches.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is one of the most popular internal migration destinations for transgender women in Vietnam, hosting an estimated population of between 2,000 and 3,000 transgender women. This estimate was developed as part of this needs assessment and is based on discussions, consultations and correspondence with transgender community leaders and other stakeholders, as well as information from transgender-oriented websites and forums, and other social networks16. There is no data on HIV prevalence in the city’s transgender population, but the prevalence among MSM in HCMC almost tripled between 2006 and 2009, rising from 5.3% to 14.8% 17.

APCOM, in partnership with Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) through the funding from Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), conducted a consultation in June 2014 to create open discussions on the political, legal and social barriers which contribute to the social exclusion of transgender people living in HCMC. The consultation, in retrospect, aims to:

  • identify the unmet needs of transgender people regarding HIV, health, and human rights; share experiences of addressing stigma and discrimination against transgender people;
  • mediate a dialogue between community members, policy makers, donors, UN agencies, NGOs and government officials;
  • pinpoint opportunities and constraints to achieve quality services from public and private sector health care providers; and
  • plan the next steps for transgender communities and other stakeholders in HCMC.

Key transgender community stakeholders contributing to the consultation included the Viet Community Development Ltd. (VCDL).

The “City-Scape Yangon: The transgender population in Yangon city and the challenges in HIV, health, and human rights” document they key discussion and conclusions of the consultation.

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