As we've discussed in previous posts, the transgender community has been disproportionately affected by HIV, and often faces challenges finding and accessing appropriate services. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy addresses these disparities, starting with the vision that states:
The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.
The Strategy also recognizes that transgender individuals are at high risk for HIV infection and makes recommendations to prevent HIV among transgendered individuals. To learn more about issues facing the transgender community and the impact of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we spoke with Bamby Salcedo, the Transgender Harm Reduction Project Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Ms. Salcedo is a Latina transgender woman, an advocate, and activist on issues regarding HIV prevention and economic and professional development for transgender communities in the United States.
What would you like people to know about the transgender community?
"We as a community are very resilient. We are very creative. We are intelligent. But for several reasons, we often don’t get the same opportunities as non-transgender folks. It is important to include the transgender community when you’re creating programs and expanding services for transgender individuals. We as a community can make things happen. And it’s important that we all work together to make sure that the specific needs of the transgender community are addressed. It’s also important to address the co-factors that influence HIV infections in transgender populations, such as economic and employment disadvantages. Interventions created for transgender individuals should address professional and economic development of the transgender community."
How does the National HIV/AIDS Strategy impact the transgender community?
"The fact that the word transgender is included in a presidential document is really remarkable. The transgender community is impacted in a very positive way. It is a huge step forward and I am very grateful for it."
What role does new media play in the transgender community?
"Technology is here and it’s happening. I am seeing more and more that our clients go to the library or go online with their phones, if they don’t have a computer at home, or are living on the streets. One project in particular that we currently have at our division through a city contract is 'The Tranny Rockstar', which is an extension to our Popular Opinion Leader model that teaches young trans women communications skills to talk to their friends about how to be safe from HIV infection and transmission. They do that through texting, Facebook, Myspace, instant messaging, and all the social networks that they are engaged with. If they don*t have a computer, they find one.
"One thing that is common now is that transgender youth are coming out at a younger age because they have the courage and are empowered. And social networks play a part in that."
On behalf of AIDS.gov, I want to thank Bamby for talking with us about the important work she is doing in response to HIV in the transgender community.