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Saigon Welcomes New LGBT-Friendly Health Care Service

Vietnam is inching toward a more gender-inclusive society with a new LGBT-friendly health center.

Men's Health, a medical care unit dedicated to LGBT patients was inaugurated in Ho Chi Minh City earlier this month under a joint partnership with G-link Vietnam, reports Tuoi Tre.

The new health center will offer counselling, STIs testing service, and even HIV treatments for high-risk members of the LGBT community. Transgender people can also have their hormone intakes monitored by the doctors to minimize adverse side effects.

Although Vietnam is slowly making progress in terms of gender rights, fears of social stigma and discrimination have often exposed LGBT individuals to serious health risks. According to statistics from USAID, less than half of the 258,586 Vietnamese diagnosed with HIV are receiving anti-retroviral treatment. On the other hand, HIV prevalence is an alarming 18% among men who have sex with men and transgender community.

The lack of access to adequate health care may also be fatal in other ways, as a transgender woman from Dong Thap recounts to VietnamNews stories of her friends losing lives by injecting hormone shots without a doctor's supervision.

Tra Anh Duy, a doctor from Saigon-based Binh Dan Hospital, added: "[Transgender individuals] can overdose or use substandard hormones, or those without clear origin. They also may not be using hormones in a hygienic way."

Meanwhile, legal hurdles continue to add to the transgenders' plight. Though Vietnam's Civic Law has recognized the right of citizens to change their sex on documents from 2017, in practice, the process will not be possible until a new law concerning transgender rights is introduced, according to Thanh Nien. Lawmakers and concerning governmental bodies are currently drafting the law, which may be available as early as 2019.

[Photo via Overdrive]

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