LGBTQAI+ people in India have a hard time accessing healthcare. Systemic barriers exacerbate this problem through the exclusion of queer identities from public institutions.
Although the precise number of gender and s*xual minorities in the nation is unknown, it was estimated in 2018 that 104 million Indians, or 8% of the entire population, are members of the LGBTQAI+ community. Even in the face of this significant number, the disparity in health outcomes for LGBTQAI+ people shows how widespread exclusion is.
Despite the fact that 7.2% of transgender people have HIV, only 59% of them have been referred for testing, and only 33% have received counseling about available treatments. In fact, access to general healthcare is made more difficult for anyone living with HIV because of the stigma surrounding dental care, the overuse of personal protective equipment, and unnecessary referrals to specialist providers.
Prime Purush understands that in such a scenario of structural negligence, it becomes necessary to provide LGBTQ people with as much information about their health, s*xual and otherwise, as possible. We want everyone to have the ability to access stimulation and act on their desires. And our products are developed keeping in mind the same.
We offer our services to all men, regardless of who they have s*x with. Our dynamic intervention strategy of combining the best of allopathy, ayurveda, and nutrition allows our supplements to be effective in increasing the stimulation capacity of all men.
The systemic barriers faced by queer people in accessing healthcare also mean that they’re at a higher risk of suffering from s*xually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as HIV, depression, and alcohol and drug abuse. Thus, it becomes more important for members of the LGBTQAI+ community to keep themselves informed about the precautionary and preventive measures they can take for their health and well-being.
Finding Queer-affirmative Healthcare Spaces
Transparency is a critical factor for the success of any doctor-patient relationship. This includes coming out to your healthcare provider and sharing candid information about your s*x life and your partners. Only based on this information can any individual get the correct advice from their doctor.
However, not all clinics and healthcare providers are open to treating LGBTQ people. You may face discrimination from such places. In some cases, they might refuse you treatment and in others, may put you in a more serious harm’s way. That is why it is critical for you to assess and question the secure nature of any doctor you approach.
You must make sure that the doctor has a history of consulting queer people and will not put you at risk. When searching for a healthcare provider, the safest option is to book a consultation only with places that are actively queer-affirmative. You can also look to your network of friends and community when exploring new options for clinics.
The internet can be a good resource to find such places but you also need to be wary of any scam or trap sites that may spread misinformation or worse. You should also always call up the clinic you’re looking into before going and judge its viability and security. If you are skeptical about anyone or the aspect of the clinic, it is better to find an alternative option. Remember to always put your safety first.
Getting tested regularly
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence in men who have s*x with other men (MSM) is 4.3% in India, compared to 0.3% in the general population. However, there are various obstacles, like stigma and expensive testing expenses, that keep MSM from getting tested. Nearly two-thirds of transgender people lack access to s*xually transmitted disease (STD) treatment.
The lack of dissemination of information and the higher likelihood of LGBTQ people, especially trans people, to live under the poverty line means that they are more vulnerable to STDs. Thus, the onus of getting tested periodically for again evidently falls on queer people.
As a man who has s*x with another man, you should be regularly tested for STDs. Only by getting tested (you can look for testing sites) will you be able to determine your STD status. To protect your health and the health of your partner, it’s critical to get tested if you have an STD (such as gonorrhea), as having one makes it simpler to contract HIV or pass it on to others. The CDC advises testing for the following in s*xually active homos*xual, bis*xual, and other males who have s*x with men:
- HIV (at least once a year);
- Hepatitis B;
- Hepatitis C if your healthcare provider says you are at risk
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea of the rectum if you’ve had receptive anal s*x or been a “bottom” in the past year;
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea of the penis (urethra) if you have had insertive anal s*x (been on the “top”) or received oral s*x in the past year; and
- Gonorrhea of the throat if you’ve given oral s*x (your mouth on your partner’s penis, vagina, or anus) in the past year.
A herpes blood test may occasionally be recommended by your doctor or healthcare professional. You should get tested for STDs more frequently and may benefit from getting tested for HIV more frequently (for instance, every 3 to 6 months) if you have more than one partner or have engaged in casual intercourse with someone you don’t know. If you honestly discuss your s*xual past with your doctor, they can give you the finest care possible. Have a discussion with your doctor regarding HPV, Hepatitis A, and B immunizations.
Lowering the risk of STDs
Aside from partaking in regular tests, you can also take certain preventive measures that decrease your likelihood of catching an STD. These measures are simple but can go a long way in avoiding s*xually transmitted infections for you and your partner.
First, transparency with your partner is paramount in avoiding infections. Make sure you’re keeping a dialogue open with your partner that allows you to be candid with each other. This should include having open conversations about STDs, when they last got tested, and previous partners. If you are practicing non-monogamy or are in an “open” relationship, it is important that this transparency is maintained between all parties.
Using a condom is very important for the prevention of STDs and you must make sure that you use one every time you have s*x. You should also be aware of using and wearing the condom correctly so that is effective.
Overconsumption of alcohol and drugs is often correlated with carelessness which leads to STDs. Think twice about mixing alcohol and/or drugs with s*x. They can lower your ability to make good decisions and can lead to risky behavior—like having s*x without a condom.
If you’re willing to, limit your number of s*xual partners. You can lower your chances of getting STDs if you only have s*x with one person who only has s*x with you.
Take care of your mental health
As an LGBTQAI+ person in India, the struggles you face may severely affect your mental well-being. A study found that about 70% of men who have s*x with men (MSM) and 91% of transgender persons faced depression, frequent alcohol use, and victimization due to violence.
It is important to look after your emotional and psychological health as you try to maneuver the obstacles of the Indian healthcare system. Be sure to make time for yourself every day and stay connected with your family and friends. As a marginalized identity, it is especially integral to find a community you can feel safe with, whether related by blood or not.
Living with diseases like HIV can put a critical emotional toll on you. If you find yourself struggling, reach out to a mental health professional and seek help. There are plenty of resources out there to help you through the tough times.
Keep yourself informed
It is cardinal that you actively seek out information that may directly or indirectly affect your health and identity. Be on the lookout for policy changes, new medicines, technology, or any other kind of new information which may impact your health.
As an individual armed with the knowledge of current affairs, you will be able to make informed decisions about your health (or even advice a loved one about theirs).
Remember that these tips are not exhaustive or absolute in their nature. In a country where queer identities are structurally discriminated against, the problems in accessing healthcare are many. Thus, it is important to take all the measures you can to protect yourself and your s*xual health and practice safe s*x.
s*x has been a key factor in the solidarity of the LGBTQ community for centuries. Queer people have found comfort in such solidarity and the stigma that surrounds such conversations stands as yet another barrier for them to live freely.
Prime Purush is working to destigmatize conversations around s*x and s*xual health in Indian society. We’re attempting to initiate a discourse surrounding s*xual problems faced by men and helping them tackle these effectively. By debunking myths about men’s s*xual health, we work towards unchaining the patriarchal leash of toxic masculinity.