Sunday marked the start of the International AIDS Conference: Turning the Tide Together, being held in the United States for the first time since 1990. This conference allows professionals working in the field of HIV, individuals who are living with HIV, and advocates to come together, share new research from the field and strategize a plan to end the AIDS pandemic. The historic return of the conference to the US was made possible by the elimination in 2009 of the notorious ban on people with HIV traveling to the US.
Findings in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey show alarmingly high rates of HIV in trans people with rates skyrocketing trans people of color:
- Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection with 2.46% compared to 0.6%.
- 24.90% of African-American participants reported being HIV positive compared with national rate of 2.4% African Americans
- 10.92% of Latino/a participants reported being HIV positive compared with national rate of .08% Latino/as.
Transgender advocates from around the nation and the world are sharing strategies, research, and stories at the conference. If you are in the Washington, DC area, you can hear and network from these activists and many others in the conference’s Global Village, which is free and open to the public.
This month, NCTE celebrated the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announcement allocating $80 million dollars in new grant funding toward eliminating the wait list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). This is an important step, but much more needs to be done within the US and internationally. Recommendations in NCTE’s Blueprint for Equality include:
- Congress should fully fund implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
- Congress should fully fund comprehensive sexuality education and defund ineffective and dangerous abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
- The CDC and the Department of Justice should develop and implement comprehensive HIV prevention strategies for correctional facilities, including those overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) should issue guidance for international HIV prevention efforts targeted at transgender people.
- PEPFAR should require all PEPFAR-funded programs to certify that they do not promote anti-LGBT messages or discriminate against LGBT people.
This conference is an urgently needed convening to refocus resources and attention toward trans people living with HIV or AIDS. For more information on best practices for transgender HIV prevention, visit the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.