Health and Opportunity Network (HON) is a dedicated care and support organization for transgender individuals living with HIV and AIDS in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is a hotspot where a significant number of transgender live and work including engaging in commercial sex. The organization had started its work at the beginning of 2008, with the funding from the Provincial Office of the Ministry of Public Health, to assess the needs of transgender individuals related to HIV and AIDS. The organization was later officially established and registered as legal entity on August 1, 2008. HON’s main objective is to provide advice and counseling on health related issues including training personnel and production of health promotion materials. The founder of the organization is Ms. Thissadee Sawangying, who has experiences working on care and support for women and children affected by HIV, HIV research and HIV prevention among MSM (including TG).
HON provides holistic HIV care and support services for transgender people living with HIV and AIDS including clinical, psychosocial, social, and preventive services. These include clinical services (screening of STIs & anal cancer, screening and basic care for OIs), Psychosocial service (counseling and support to promote acceptance of HIV status and self care behavior and ART adherence, disclosure support), Preventive services (distribution of condom and lubrication, support for disclosure on HIV status and VCT for sexual partners of HIV-positive TG, peer education on prevention of transmission of HIV and other STIs and re-infection) and Social services (assistance on registration to help PLHIV access to social security scheme and universal health care scheme).
Part of HON’s advocacy is to develop several materials to promote the access of transgender people living with HIV to its services, including brochure, newsletter and website. HON also develops several materials aimed to increase knowledge and skill of TG PLHIVs in related areas such as prevention for HIV re-infection and transmission and hormone use and ARV.
Currently, the organization is working on developing potential leaders and empowering health volunteers by improving their knowledge and skills on care and support. HON is including in their efforts the partnership with Community Health Volunteers (CHV) under the National Mechanism of Public Health created by Thailand’s Ministry of Health.