As part of my medical procedures when I restarted my HRT last year, one of the things I had to do was take test for not only Hepatitis B and C exposure, but HIV. It was a relief to know that the results of those tests all came back negative.
I mention this because today is the inaugural National Trans HIV Testing Day. Trans people in the US are unfortunately among one of the groups at highest risk for HIV infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trans women of color, and especially trans African-Americans and trans Latinas experience disproportionately high rates of HIV infections.
To add an exclamation point to the issue of trans HIV infections, the Transgender Law Center last month released the initial reports from their groundbreaking Positively Trans Survey with the support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation that focuses on the lives of trans Americans trans living with HIV/AIDS.
The CDC points out certain risk factors directly tied to transphobia and the marginalization that transgender people face that may contribute to the high transgender HIV infection rates.
Those risk factors include: higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, sex work, incarceration, homelessness, attempted suicide, unemployment, lack of familial support, violence, stigma and discrimination, limited health care access, and negative health care encounters.
The National Trans HIV Testing Day was conceived in order to promote and recognize the importance of routine HIV testing, status awareness, and ongoing focus of HIV prevention and treatment efforts among transgender people.
It encourages participation by local community based organizations, health jurisdictions, and HIV prevention programs by hosting local trans community specific HIV testing events and forums. They are also encouraging on this day the development of trans specific HIV campaign materials and resources to tackle the ongoing health crisis in our trans ranks.
Here’s hoping that this inaugural National Trans HIV Testing Day is just the first step in a series of coordinated moves that will help us in Trans World get down to zero new infections in our ranks.