The Truth About HIV/AIDS Among Trans People

As we move into World AIDS Day tomorrow, NCTE’s Mara Keisling said:

“For transgender people, World AIDS Day is a time for both quiet reflection and focused action. The truth is sobering–trans people have contracted HIV at rates four times the national average, with rates especially high among trans women and trans people of color. This epidemic, made worse by harassment, violence and unemployment, spells the tragic loss of trans people around the world.

In NCTE’s groundbreaking National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, our sample of nearly 6,500 trans people reported a 2.6 percent HIV infection rate, over four times the rate of the general adult population (0.6 percent). An additional 8 percent did not know their status.

White House Honors World AIDS Day

Photo by Jamal Brown

HIV infection rates increased substantially for trans people of color:

Race

Trans 

 Respondents

General 

 Population

African Americans

25%

2.4%

Latino/as

11%

.O8%

American Indians

7%

<1%

Asian Americans

3.7%

.01%

While it’s difficult to compile data on HIV infections among transgender people, our findings are consistent with analysis from the Centers for Disease Control, and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Keisling said, “We must put an end to this crisis. Part of that is directing health research and resources to trans people. But the other part–the important part–is fixing the conditions that force trans people into unhealthy outcomes.”

The NTDS showed that social and economic factors like education, employment, and citizenship status (among others), greatly exacerbated rates of HIV infection:

  •  13.5% among those without a high-school diploma
  • 10% among those who had been sexually assaulted due to bias for being trans
  • 6.4% among those with household incomes below $10,000
  • 4.6% among those who lost a job due to bias for being trans
  • 4.7% among those who are unemployed
  • 8% among trans documented non-citizens, and 7% among trans undocumented people, compared to 2.4% infection rate among U.S. Citizens
  • 4.3% among MTF trans respondents, compared to 0.51% among FTM respondents

The federal government is taking steps to reduce HIV/AIDS infections, and increase testing in the United States. Keisling said, “The National HIV/AIDS strategy (NAHS), for the first time, ushered in coordinated efforts to address this problem. Trans health experts were part of the team that developed this strategy, and because of that, trans people are among the communities that the NAHS has targeted for research and support.”

As this research continues to grow, trans people—and all people—should get tested throughout the year. Knowing your HIV status is one way to end the AIDS epidemic.

To find out where you can get an HIV test:

  • Visit http://www.hivtest.org  and enter your zip code for HIV test sites, including sites that offer HIV tests for free.
  • Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
  • Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566947) and you will receive a list of the nearest testing locations.
  • Contact your state or local health department.

Here are some organizations that will happily test transgender folks for HIV, and there’s probably a local health center in your area too:

Los Angeles, CA

LA Gay & Lesbian Center: http://laglc.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=homepage or 323-993-7500

Washington DC

The DC Center: www.thedccenter.org or 202-682-2245

Whitman-Walker Clinic: wwc.org or 202-939-7690

Chicago, IL

Howard Brown Health Center: www.howardbrown.org or 773-388-1600

Boston, MA

Fenway Health: fenwayhealth.org or 617-927-6202

New York, NY

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center: http://www.callen-lorde.org/ or 212-271-7200

The LGBT Community Center: www.gaycenter.org or 212-620-7310

Seattle, WA

Gay City Health Project: gaycity.org or 206-860-6969

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