Gender identity and sexual orientation are different facets of identity. Everyone has a gender identity and a sexual orientation, but an individual’s gender does not determine an individual’s sexual orientation. Trans/Transgender/Gender Non-Binary individuals experience their sexual orientation in multiple expressions.
Transgender individuals, particularly transgender women of color, have higher rates of HIV infection. Rates are especially high among African American transgender women.
In 2018, 86 percent of transgender individuals who received an HIV diagnosis were transgender women. Although rates among transgender individuals are not available, it is estimated that both transgender women and men are disproportionately affected by HIV. According to an analysis conducted by CDC scientists, HIV prevalence among transgender individuals in the US is estimated to be 9.2 percent overall, and higher among transgender women (14.1 percent) than transgender men (3.2 percent).
The higher HIV prevalence among transgender women compared to other high risk groups may be due to many environmental and social contexts including multiple stigmas (transphobia, racism, sexism, HIV, and sex work); substance use; recurrent incarceration and victimization in the criminal justice system; homelessness and marginal housing; relationship and other forms of violence; institutional inattention, indifference, and mistreatment; mental health issues; lack of economic opportunities; and other issues.2
Transwomen are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic and are in immediate need of comprehensive HIV preventative services. A recent survey published by the CDC estimates 1 in 4 transwomen are living with HIV. These health disparities are compounded by the intersexuality of racial/ethnic identity. The full CDC report: HIV Infection, Risk, Prevention, and Testing Behaviors Among Transgender Women - National HIV Behavioral Surveillance - 7 U.S. Cities, 2019-2020 (PDF).
The Trans Reality infographic listed below further highlights barriers Transgender individuals experience.
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective HIV prevention strategy in which an individual who does not have HIV takes a daily pill to stay HIV negative. When taken daily as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV. PrEP is available by prescription from a health provider. Most private health insurance, as well as Medicaid and Medicare, covers PrEP. If you need help with covering copays, there are assistance programs that may be able to help, including OA's PrEP Assistance Program (PrEP-AP).
PrEP works for women, men, people of trans experience, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, youth, and people who inject drugs.
You can use PrEP alone or in combination with other prevention tools like condoms, Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and U=U (Undetectable Equals Untransmittable) to have the sex you want and reduce your chances of getting HIV!
PrEP for Trans Women | PleasePrEPMe
Results from two California trans-focused PrEP studies to increase PrEP uptake, adherence, retention, and access for trans communities from 2016-2020 can be found on the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome's webpage:
What is PEP?
PEP is a biomedical HIV prevention method that commonly consists of a 28-day course of antiretroviral drugs. When taken soon after an exposure, PEP can stop HIV seroconversion. PEP is most effective when taken as soon as possible after an HIV exposure, and adherence is crucial to the drug therapy's success. When taken as prescribed, PEP can reduce HIV transmission by 80%. Despite the timing of taking PEP being crucial to its success, many barriers to accessing PEP prevent people from receiving the drug therapy in a timely manner.
Observed each year on March 31, this day is dedicated to celebrating transgender individuals and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender individuals worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.
Observed each year on April 18, this day is an opportunity to recognize the importance of routine HIV testing and status awareness, as well as HIV prevention and patient-centered care for transgender and gender non-binary individuals.
The month of November celebrates the transgender and gender nonconforming communities and raises awareness for the community through education and advocacy activities.
Observed November 13 – 19 each year, people and organizations around the country help raise the visibility of transgender individuals and address issues members of the community face.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual international observance on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender individuals whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence and transphobia that year.
The Annual LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, a nationwide event that promotes the unique health and wellness needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is observed each year on May 17th. It was created in 2004 to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex people, and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities/expressions, and sex characteristics.
Observed the 3rd Wednesday of October, International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity.
The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is held annually on December 17th by sex workers, their advocates, friends, families, and allies. The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination that have contributed to violence against sex workers.