Trans women (people who were assigned ‘male’ at birth and have a female gender identity and/or feminine gender expression) are at high risk of having HIV and of contracting HIV.
In a global meta-analysis, the HIV prevalence among trans women in high income countries such as the United States is approximately 22%; however, trans women regardless of country wealth were approximately 49-times more likely to be living with HIV compared to all adults of reproductive ages.
Trans women of color, especially African-Americans and Latinas, experience disproportionately high rates of HIV.
A 2008 meta-analysis of 29 regional US studies found that race was a significant factor to HIV status among trans women; that is, race influences how much risk one has of contracting HIV. It is important to emphasize, however, the literature suggests that racism, not just race, influences these women’s risk.
Transphobia (specific discrimination experienced by trans people), homophobia, and racism appear to collectively increase risk among trans women of color. Without more nuanced language, it appears as though trans women’s own intrinsic characteristics are placing them at risk for HIV, and as is acknowledged throughout the toolkit that isn’t the case.
For example, HIV prevalence among African American trans women is approximately 56%, whereas the prevalence among Caucasian trans women is approximately 17%.2 In other words, African American trans women test positive for HIV more often than Caucasian trans women. Therefore, special considerations for HIV testing should be tailored to communities most in need.
NTHTD is a day to recognize the importance of routine HIV testing, status awareness and continued focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts among transgender and gender non-binary people. The initiative encourages community-based organizations, health jurisdictions and HIV prevention programs to host local transgender HIV testing community events and/or develop trans-specific HIV testing campaign materials and resources.
The University of California at San Francisco, Center of Excellence for Transgender Health has put together a informative tool kit that can be accessed here. Some content for this article is from the tool kit.