Editor’s Note: From CDC’s Doing It – an HIV testing and prevention campaign.
It’s Our Time – The Transgender Community and HIV/AIDS
By: Chandi Moore, Health Education Associate at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
On a recent episode of ‘I am Cait,’ I shared about my past and how difficult my journey has been. Despite the ‘glitz and glamor’ that you see on TV, it has not been an easy road for many transgender people, including me. I know that many transgender and gender non-conforming people share in my struggle or have experienced even worse. I am grateful that I have a national platform where my voice can be heard, but many of my fellow transgender people don’t have the same opportunity. In fact, a lot of us still suffer in silence, especially from HIV/AIDS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), transgender people in the United States are among the groups at highest risk of contracting HIV; transgender women are at a high risk for HIV infection, and more African American transgender women tested positive for HIV than any other racial/ethnic group of transgender women. The CDC says there are social barriers (among many others) that contribute to the high number of transgender people affected by HIV, and I couldn’t agree more. Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to being transgender, and it is hindering our access to life saving HIV prevention and treatment information. We also continue to face discrimination in the workplace and even through legislation.
Thankfully, we are taking steps in the right direction. For one, the first National Transgender HIV Testing Day is on April 18. On this day, I ask – Are you Doing It? Testing for HIV? . I urge all my transgender brothers and sisters to step out and get tested for HIV on April 18. Tests are free and confidential, and you can find a testing location near you at cdc.gov/doingit. In addition, I challenge all HIV/AIDS advocates to embrace the transgender population and help us stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic among us. Bring us to the table when you are having important conversations about the health of our community. Let our voices be heard, not just on TV, but in public meetings, at events, and in your research.
I’ll be hosting a Twitter chat about National Transgender HIV Testing Day on April 18 at 3:00 PM. Please join me using the hashtag #TransHIVchat . Let’s work together to remove the barriers to HIV prevention and treatment for everyone.