Last week we received the news about a lesbian woman from Koh Kong who fell ill after having been taking her HIV medication irregularly for a while. Together with our partner organization Bandanh Chaktomok (BC) we paid food and medical aid and one month’s rent.
Lesbian and HIV positive
Earlier we wrote about the fact that in Cambodia lesbian women are also confronted with HIV infection:
In Cambodia, HIV was eventually widely spread amongst the population. So not only the Most-At-Risk Population (MARP), also a lot of straight people got infected. One of the reasons was the thriving sex industry in Cambodia. That could flourish because of the presence UNCTAD mission during the 1990s (read this article from the Washington Post from August 9, 1998). Poverty still drives women and men into prostitution. This also applies also to lesbian women. In addition, there are still forced marriages in Cambodia, which increases the risk of HIV transmission for lesbian women too.
B. (for privacy reasons we do not mention names) was infected with HIV by her male ex-partner. In a forced marriage, as that happens to more LGBTI people in Cambodia. She currently lives with her (female) partner in Koh Kong, a small town near the coast and close to the border with Thailand. B. worked as a construction worker, a heavy occupation that is often practiced by women in Cambodia.
Because she did not take her medication regularly she became ill and she could not work anymore. Her partner still works, but her income is too low to pay the medical costs and rent. And so we received the request from BC to support B. and her partner last Friday. Volunteers now brought her food aid. In addition, Untenu also paid a month’s rent and hospital costs.
Better geographical distribution of aid and more diverse target group
The cooperation that Untenu formally entered into with BC this year has meant that more help is needed in areas where we did not receive any requests before. The above request is the first from Koh Kong. BC is originally an organization that focused on men who have sex with men (MSM) and man-to-woman transgender people. Untenu has been working from the start for the entire LGBTI community. We are therefore pleased that BC has also transformed into an LGBTI organization since this month.