The week-old Bali Medika Clinic will provide confidential medical check-ups, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, CD4 testing and antiretroviral treatment, and a range of other services specifically targeted at men who have sex with men and other at-risk groups.
The Bali Medika Clinic, located in the popular tourist area of Kuta, has been in operation since September 27 but was officially opened on Saturday, with the mission of tackling the stigma routinely experienced by gay men and transgender people at other health centers.
“This clinic will be a safe haven for homosexual and transgender people who continue to experience difficulty getting access to treatment at general health care facilities,” said Prof. Dewa Nyoman Wirawan, an adviser to the clinic, was quoted as saying in the media.
The clinic will be run by Dr Yogi Prasetia, director of the clinic and five other staff members. He told Fridae that among the services available will be confidential medical check-ups, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, CD4 testing and antiretroviral treatment, hormone-replacement therapy, expanded diagnostic and care clinic for individuals at risk for and already infected with HIV, psychological counseling and promoting safe sex practices.
Indonesian citizens will be treated free of charge while foreigners will be charged market rates for exams and laboratory tests.
The clinic is funded by Bali Peduli – an association of friends living in Bali and concerned by the apparent rise in HIV and AIDS among young gay men in Bali, and AusAID, with support from the Bali Provincial Health Department and the Bali AIDS Commission.
According to statistics provided on balipeduli.org, the HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bali is between 13-19% and among transgenders in Bali, the rate is greater than 40%. Less than 10% of the high-risk group members pursue testing for HIV due to stigma, shame, cost, and service challenges which discourage clients.
Although Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, the majority of Balinese practice Hinduism.
Bali Medika Clinic is located at Jalan Kalianget #3, Kuta, Bali. Phone number +62 361 7913737. The clinic will be open on Monday to Friday from 4pm till 8pm, and Saturday from 9am till noon. Staff members speak Indonesian and/or English.