In this country with a total population slightly more than 30 million, HIV has become an epidemic. Previously, the HIV was driven by injecting drug users. Since 2006 after introduction of harm reduction strategy for injecting drug users and free first line antiretroviral therapy, the trend of HIV transmission began to shift towards sex. The transgender belonged to one of the most at risk populations.
So on 9th February 2019 at 11:30pm until 4am, we went for street da’wah in Kuantan with Medical Students Society (Medss), Persatuan Insaf Pahang and Badan Kebajikan Islam Petronas Gebeng. Almost 30 people involved,15 medical students ,5 from Badan Kebajikan, 5 people from Persatuan Insaf Pahang and the rest from public who have interest on LGBT.
We met about 20 to 30 maknyah ( sex workers) in Jalan Pasar, Jalan Wong Ah Jang and area nearby.It was an eye opener for students and others as they learned on HIV from different angle and perspective.
The leader or mak ayam shared his experience, lately business a bit slow and strong competition from female sex workers. Normally they charge RM50 per session,sometimes just RM40 (harga kasih sayang) and for students about RM30. When discussed about sexual transmitted disease screening like HIV, they agreed to do it but time factor really a big issue. Condom usage a bit controversial because it depend on a customer. If the customer don’t bother about HIV, nothing much they can do. Customer is always right.
Their business has unwritten policy. It has 2 shifts, those who work at night will rest at daytime and vice versa. Income depend on luck,sometimes they got no customer.So they will help each other. They have to continue doing this business as it provides instant money. In addition, they don’t have strong education background. The community also in general a bit resistance to accept them back and also being judgemental against them. However, as many of their friends die of HIV. They are start thinking how long should be working like this. So it is a great opportunity actually, to help them back to normal and stop spreading HIV. Insyallah Kuantan, HIV getting to zero will be a reality.