Health and Healthcare Seeking Behaviour among Transgender in Mumbai: Beyond the Paradigm of HIV/AIDS

Amrita Gupta, Muthusamy Sivakami


Over the last two decades, health research on transgenders (TGs) has focused mainly on their sexual practices, leading to lack of information on their health problems and healthcare seeking behaviour beyond Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and HIV/AIDS. This study aims to understand reported  morbidities, treatment seeking behaviour including health expenditure among TGs in a slum in Mumbai, India. Using
mixed methods (survey and in-depth interviews), in addition to background characteristics, information on morbidity, healthcare seeking behaviour, dietary patterns and substance abuse was obtained from 110 TGs. About 61 per cent TGs reported
common illnesses in the last six months and about 41 per cent reported chronic illness in the last one year. Among those who reported such illness, a very few availed government health services. About 53 per cent and 61 per cent reportedly consumed alcohol and tobacco respectively at the time of interview which is way above that of the general population in India. Further, over 80 per cent of TG do not have any savings for emergency illness and only 16 per cent have some knowledge about government health insurance. Poor utilisation of government health services and lack of awareness of government health insurance impose a heavy economic burden on TGs who are already vulnerable due to the stigma around their gender identity.

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