Chennai transgender community efforts to create awareness on HIV/AIDS

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Chennai, June 17 : Transgender community here has come to the forefront in spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS through the medium of folk dance.

The Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (TAI), a non-governmental organisation has taken the initiative to form a folk dance group comprising transgender. The transgender community has started HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in eleven districts in the state and imparts knowledge to sex workers in these priority districts.

The organisation also aims to provide respect to a community, which has for centuries been condemned to the bottom of society.

"This is a very unique effort because transgender are usually seen soliciting or seen begging on the streets. The effort is to bring them into the mainstream to make them realise that we can also contribute to the society," said Jayashree, associate manager and coordinator, TAI.

The folk dance group aims to bring a behavioral change in people by encouraging them to communicate issues related to the deadly disease.

"The disease has spread worldwide. Transgender community is also suffering. We hope this programme will help spreading awareness about the disease," said Saradha, a transgender.

The number of people estimated to be living with HIV-AIDS in India is about 2.47 million.

Yet over 40 per cent of Indian women have not heard of AIDS, creating a dangerous combination of lack of knowledge and greater sexual activity.

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