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Sex, drugs, stigma put Thai transsexuals at HIV risk

in THAILAND, 31/07/2013

nfection rates among transgenders are thought to be on the up, as high-risk lifestyles, including prostitution and drug use, and a lack of targeted healthcare take their toll on one of the kingdom's most marginalised groups.

Sex work and injecting drugs left the 40-year-old vulnerable to the disease, which she was diagnosed with six years ago.

"Some men used condoms... some didn't. Sometimes the condom broke," she says without rancour of her time turning tricks in Pattaya -- one of the centres of Thailand's flourishing sex industry and home to 3,000 transgenders in tourist season.

Soft spoken and slight with a dusting of make-up over her wan face, Gigi cuts an image far from the caricature of the bawdy "Katoey", as Thailand's estimated 180,000 transgenders -- or "ladyboys" -- are known.

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