Transgender Michigan

Common Questions
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HIV/AIDS IS a Transgender Issue!

A Question & Answer Sheet published by TransGender Michigan

Q: “How prevalent is HIV/AIDS in the trans community?”
A: Estimated infection rates taken from various transgender communities range from about 14-69%, according to several needs assessments and sexual risk behavior studies.

Q: “What risky behaviors are unique to the trans community?”
A: Risk factors include unsafe injection practices from hormones and silicone and lack of transgender-specific resources and education. 

Q: “What else impacts the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in transgender communities?”
A: According to the Office of the Surgeon General, “Transgender people face stigma and discrimination, which exacerbates their HIV risk.  The stigma of transgender status is associated with lower self-esteem, increased likelihood for substance abuse and survival sex work…, and lessened likelihood for safer sex practices. Social marginalization can result in the denial of educational, employment and housing opportunities.”

Q: “If this is such a problem, why haven’t I heard about this before?”
A: According to the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not separate transgendered people from its Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) category – thus obscuring these alarmingly high rates.”

Q: “What can be done about this?”
A: Service professionals need to be educated about ensuring that their services are inclusive of transgender individuals.  Organizations need to begin to gear programs toward transgender communities. Collection of data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the transgender community needs to be improved so that decision-makers will understand the importance of trans-inclusion and education. Transgender organizations need to ensure that trans people understand risky behaviors and how to protect themselves.  Individuals should assist in these changes by  challenging HIV/AIDS service professionals and organizations to  ensure that their services include the transgender community and by encouraging transgender organizations to educate about the unique  risks of HIV/AIDS transmission in the transgender community.


Sources:
“HIV/AIDS and Transgender People” by Whitman-Walker Clinic
“HIV/AIDS and Transgender Persons” by the US Office of the Surgeon General
“HIV/AIDS and the Transgender Community” by It’s Time, Massachusetts!