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Dominican Organization COIN Provides Healthcare to LGBT Community

Dominican Organization COIN Provides Healthcare to LGBT Community

Dominican Organization COIN Provides Healthcare to LGBT Community

Condoms, HIV testing, birth control, and education are provided on the Caribbean island.

With all of the imperfections the United States has when it comes to healthcare, it’s easy to forget that while our lack of a universal plan leaves plenty of people unable to afford basic medical coverage, other countries have it just as bad, if not worse.

In the Dominican Republic, the jobs and economic means to provide for oneself are few and far between, especially for the LGBT population, so many members of the community turn to sex work. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of the country’s healthcare equate to a shortcoming when it comes to sexual education and availability of necessary things like condoms and birth control.

That's where the Centro de Orientacion e Investigacion Integral comes in. What translates to the Center for Integral Orientation and Investigation, or COIN, has been servicing vulnerable populations in the Dominican Republic, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals, for more than 30 years. The Dominican Republic, though making strides, remains a developing country where many human rights violations occur, and the government doesn't have the money to defend everyone. Organizations like COIN pick up some of the slack and provide clinical care and health services.

These services, that would otherwise be unavailable to members of the LGBT community don't just include healthcare. Mental health help is offered to transgender men and women, and is often needed since, like in many other countries in the world, being transgender is still sometimes considered a mental illness. The counseling is extended to family members of LGBT people to educate them and teach acceptance.

COIN is supremely dedicated to helping the at-risk populations of the Dominican Republic, and have even done studies with unusual methodology to learn how to better serve these groups. The organization doesn't convolute things when they check to see if what they've been teaching actually sticks, and has hired people to see if they can negotiate with sex workers to have sex without condoms. They've even gone as far as to sift through trash cans to see if the sex workers are actually using the condoms they provide.

The organization faces little discrimination or harrassment from individuals since it helps such a large amount of the population, but the same can't be said for governing bodies lik the church. But they continue to do what they feel needs to be done in offering aid to those who need it, regardless of how much pressure the church tries to apply.

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Dennis Hinzmann