MSM in Chiang Mai
Although Thailand is often described as a "gay paradise" in media abroad, the reality for many gay, bi and transsexual people is far from paradise. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are stigmatized in Thai society. The result is discrimination and the consequences are grave: MSM can not fully enjoy their human rights.
A recent study has shown that HIV prevalence among MSM in Thailand is increasing again and has reached critical levels. In the city of Chiang Mai "general" MSM have a prevalence of 15.3%, among male sex workers it is 11.4% and among transgender 17.6%. This is in part due to the lack of available condoms at places where men go to have sex, such as saunas and parks.
Male sex workers face many additional problems, partly because of the illegal setting in which they find themselves. Many belong to ethnic minorities or are illegal migrants from Burma. Because of their non-citizen status, gainful employment is scant and many men turn to sex work in order to support their families. Sex workers also face a language barrier, where negotiating safe sex with a client can often be difficult.
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