June 5, 2023

By Maryam Missal


The Provincial Health Secretary for Sindh and Medical Superintendents of the Dr. Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital (CHK) in Karachi have been issued summons for June 7 by a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC), headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, for illegally refusing medical assistance to HIV-positive transgender persons in Karachi.

In a petition filed by two transgender rights activists along with three HIV-positive transgender persons, it is stated that the diseased petitioners required some immediate medical treatment, but they were denied services at CHK due to their HIV status.

Shehzadi Rai, a trans rights activist as well as a co-petitioner, told Voicepk.net that CHK denied medical assistance to four transgenders, of whom one has already passed away.

“This has been a years-long struggle for transgenders who are denied basic medical attention,”

she asserted, adding that CHK reached out to the petitioners after the court hearing. “They want to settle things out of court, but we have suffered long enough and we want the decision to be made legally so it is saved for the future as well.”

According to Rai, CHK was previously accommodating trans people in their facilities. But since a change in the administration, they are turning away HIV-positive transgender patients with the excuse that they do not have the required facilities to treat HIV-positive patients.

Sara Malkani, the counsel for the petitioners, told Voicepk.net that one in five transgender people are HIV positive, and are being denied medical services despite the Sindh HIV and Aids Control Treatment Act, 2013.

Malkani stated that,

“Law is not being followed”.

She further added, CHK authorities are disobeying the law with the excuse that they are lacking in facilities, and denying treatment to HIV-positive transgender people as well as cisgender people diagnosed with AIDS.

She further said that the ailing petitioners require complete hip replacement surgery, treatment for chronic kidney diseases, and urgent care for other health issues. In their plea to the court, the petitioners requested directives to ensure their treatment, as the CHK’s refusal to do was in violation of the hospital’s constitutional obligations.

Malkani told the court that there were numerous HIV-positive transgender persons who were repeatedly denied medical treatments by health facilities across Sindh.

In 2021, 210,000 people across Pakistan was reportedly HIV-positive, with transgender people at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Statistics show that, in 2019, 7.1% of all HIV patients were transgender, 7.5% of whom were sex workers constituted. The threat to transgenders has escalated in recent years due to poor health management.


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