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 sexuality and gender identity. 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. This demonstrates that 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 countries may result in HIV transmission spreading between MSM communities in different cities. While such detailed studies have not been carried out with the transgender community in Myanmar, it can be assumed that similar patterns would be found among transgender people, who are subject to many of the impacts of stigma and social exclusion faced by MSM. In addition, cities have specific needs and often the authority to plan and fund localised responses, providing opportunities for innovative approaches. The 2010 report quoted data from the 2009 HSS showing an HIV prevalence of 12.5% among MSM in Yangon. There was no separate data set for transgender people.
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 Yangon. 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 Yangon.
Key transgender community stakeholders contributing to the consultation included Myanmar MSM Network (MMN), Myanmar Positive Group (MPG), Myanmar Youth Stars and the LGBT Rights Network.
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.