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Invisible and At-Risk

The transgender community is too often overlooked in HIV and AIDS education and services.  We lack comprehensive data because the CDC does not record gender in a way that validates transgender identity as a separate category (for instance MTF transexuals are often combined with "men who have sex with men"). This lack of statistical information has a direct impact on the availability of funding, education, and services. 

However, local needs assessments have shown high rates of infection among transwomen -- and high-risk behaviors among transmen. We know that our community is subject to a variety of well-documented risk factors (including low self-esteem, isolation, poverty/unemployment, and lack of appropriate medical insurance/care) which further enhance our risks.

It is up to us to break the silence.  Transgender folks confront unique obstacles in terms of preventing HIV and/or maintaining our health when living with AIDS. Educating ourselves about transgender HIV and AIDS can save transgender lives!

Highlighted Resource: Postively Aware July-August 2008 (special issue on HIV and AIDS in the Transgender community).

Breaking the Silence

The cycle of silence around sex, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS can be broken.  We have to start talking about it -- in our families, in our churches, in our communities.  Only through honest conversations will we overcome the ignorance, misinformation, fear, shame, and complacency that allows this pandemic to continue.

Highlighted Resource: Stand N Truth (documentary)

Stand N Truth is a great documentary for starting conversations about sexuality and health.  It includes a trans woman speaking her truth and also touches on how religion too often plays a role in stifling critical conversations about health and safety.  A portion of the documentary is available on YouTube (below).

Early intervention saves lives.

1. Be bold. Stop putting it off! Go get tested today!

2. Spread the word. Tell everyone-your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors-to get tested for HIV!

3. If you find out you are HIV positive, go get medical treatment.

4. Bring a family member, close friend, pastor or church member with you for support to get tested.

Highlighted Resource: Balm in Gilead - sponsors an annual Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS each March.

Know the Facts

  • While national statistics are not being compiled, local assessments indicate that the transgender community has been one of the communities hit hardest by this epidemic.
  • There is no cure for HIV and AIDS, but HIV is a treatable, chronic disease.  Getting tested and learning your diagnosis could save your life by helping you find appropriate medical treatment.
  • Someone who looks healthy may be infected with HIV. Always practice safer sex and never share needles (for hormones, for drugs, or for silicone).
  • More research is needed on how HIV and AIDS treatments may interact with hormone therapy.  If you are HIV positive, consult a doctor who is familiar with transgender health concerns.

More details, please...

Making Change

A simple idea:

  • Find your favorite HIV and AIDS-related website and contact them, asking them to include information that is sensitive to the language and needs of the transgender community.

What's Church got to do with it?

Faith communities play an important role in nurturing or undermining stigma and discrimination around HIV and AIDS. We can also play an important role in prevention education and pastoral care.

Many denominations also have HIV and AIDS ministries that publish HIV and AIDS related curriculums that may be helpful resources in your efforts on the local level.

AIDS Awareness Days

Your entire faith community will benefit from observing AIDS Awareness Days.

  • World AIDS Sunday is usually observed on the Sunday closest to World AIDS Day , December 1.
  • Balm in Gilead sponsors an annual Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in March, which supports  education, prevention, and advocacy around issues of HIV and AIDS.
  • National HIV Testing Day and other HIV and AIDS Awareness days will also provide great opportunities to do education around prevention.
Disclaimer: The information provided through TransFaith InterSections is intended to help educate transgender people and our allies about transgender health concerns. The information provided is general in nature and is not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional. If you suspect you have a disease or health-related condition of any kind, you should contact your health care professional immediately. Feedback, suggestions, and corrections are welcome. Please contact us by email or by phone (215-840-2858)!

 

Get Educated.

Fight on. 

Break the Silence.