U.S. Taxpayers Spend $355,825 to Reduce Stigmatization of India’s Transgenders

By Fred Lucas | May 1, 2013 | 1:02pm EDT

In this picture taken on Monday, April 15, 2013, Bindiya Rana, right, a transgender candidate in Pakistan's elections, talks with locals in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government is spending $355,825 in taxpayer dollars to develop a “culturally relevant stigma-reducing intervention” program for the transgender population in India.

The National Institutes of Health issued a two-phase grant to the Ohio-based Baldwin-Wallace College to conduct the study. The first phase cost $173,221. The second phase cost $182,604.

The reason given for the study is “HIV prevalence is disproportionately high among Male-to-female transgenders (Hijra) in India.”

“Stigma among health care providers limits HIV testing, treatment and care and creates a barrier to HIV protective behavior,” the project summary says. “Stigmatization of transgender by healthcare providers has been documented, and is identified as a significant barrier to effective HIV prevention responses among this marginalized, at-risk population in India. However, evidence based interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination among health care providers are seriously lacking.”

The title of the study is “Project Shakti: Stigma Reduction, Health Care Provider Awareness and Knowledge.”

CNSNews.com asked an NIH spokesperson several questions, including, “Since this study focuses on India, what is the benefit to the U.S.? Why is it worthwhile to U.S. taxpayers?”

In a written response, the NIH told CNSNews.com only, “NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Behavioral research will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”

The NIH referred back to the project summary for any other comment.

The funding for the project ends in August.

“The proposed project will address this need by developing a theory-based, culturally relevant stigma-reducing intervention targeting health care providers in Mumbai, India,” the NIH project summary says. “The proposed multidisciplinary US-India collaborative research team with significant HIV/AIDS research experience will implement a two-year formative study to develop and pilot health-care provider-focused stigma reducing intervention.”

The project summary continues, “The study has three specific aims: 1) Document cause and manifestation of stigma among health care providers in Mumbai; 2) Use the information to design a provider-focused intervention module, and obtain community feedback; 3) Pilot the revised intervention module among 50 healthcare providers, and assess its feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effect on health service behavior among healthcare providers. These data will prepare the team to conduct a large scale randomized controlled trial in India.”

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