We have come a long way since the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s. Some of the groups that the HIV intervention programs focused on are men having sex with men and transgender women. In fact that is how the fight against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises “unnatural sexual” relationships began as liberation is key to queer people’s health. Despite the advancements since, queer people are still bullied in schools and rejected by their families, resulting in them turning to high-risk activities for relief and escape. On the other hand, the intervention programs have not caught up with technological changes posed by dating apps.
We are embarking on an LGBTQ miniseries about all things queer in India today. For our first episode, reporter Suryatapa Mukherjee spoke to policy researcher Avinaba, HIV activist Firoz Khan, and a young person living with HIV, Vishwas*. Avinaba is a genderqueer person and a research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the co-founder of Pleqsus India foundation. Firoz Khan is a gay man who works with Alliance India on HIV outreach. Vishwas* is an alias for a 22-year-old bisexual man who contracted HIV as a young teen. We spoke to them about the need for a more comprehensive HIV intervention plan.