Homophobia and Transphobia – Impact on young people in Asia and the Pacific

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Bangkok, Thailand, 13 May 2015 – Each year on May 17 people across the globe join together to commemorate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). The Day draws attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, the public and the media to the stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people around the world.  This year’s IDAHOT theme emphasise on young LGBT people.

Today’s generation of young people in the region still lack the information, services and supportive environment to prevent HIV transmission. According to UNAIDS 2012 estimates, approximately 58,000 new HIV infections occurred in young people aged 10-19 in Asia-Pacific region.  Devastatingly, many of these were among gay and transgender young people.

According to Jumping Hurdles, a discussion paper produced by Youth Voices Count (YVC) and APCOM, the high prevalence of HIV among young MSM and transgender people in the region is due to the rampant homophobia and transphobia HIV, which for many LGBT young people in the region, starts at home. Consequently, their ability to access vital information regarding HIV and sexual health is curtailed.

A study from UNESCO suggests that HIV knowledge levels, including how to prevent HIV infection, are distressingly low among young people in the region. In Bangladesh and Indonesia, less than 20% of young men can identify prevention measures correctly. While specific data regarding HIV knowledge among young key populations is unavailable, it is indicative that the knowledge among gay and transgender young people is far more upsetting than their heterosexual counterpart.

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