Today, on World AIDS Day, TLC is proud to offer a preview of the findings from our Positively Trans needs assessment, a survey developed by and devoted to lifting up trans and gender nonconforming people living with HIV and AIDS.
The data from the needs assessment tell a story much richer than the headlines we’re so used to hearing. We know that TGNC communities experience four times the prevalence of HIV and that trans women of color are the most vulnerable group, with 1 in 2 black trans women and 1 in 5 translatinas living with HIV. We wanted to find out more: what are people’s experiences not just in health care, but in many critical areas of daily life – employment, housing, incarceration, family and relationships, law enforcement interactions, and more?
Based on conversations with our National Advisory Board in March, we developed a survey and, this summer, collected responses in English and Spanish from TGNC people living with HIV in the U.S. We’re proud and grateful that more than 400 people attempted the survey, and our final analytical sample includes data from 157 complete responses. Responses came from 35 states and Puerto Rico, with a majority of responses coming from trans people of color, and primarily trans women of color.
The results paint a complex picture of trans and gender nonconforming people living with HIV in the United States.
Among the findings included in our final analysis, 43% of our sample makes less than $12,000 each year, and an additional 22% make between $12,000 and $23,000.
Yet, most respondents described their health as “good” or better, and the vast majority of respondents reported fully suppressed viral loads. These findings demonstrate the resilience of so many in our community who face unfavorable conditions.
Fully 41% of people in our sample have been incarcerated in their lifetimes. This is a statistic we need to pay attention to, especially with the rise of HIV criminalization and stories like that of Michael Johnson. When we asked respondents to share their top legal priorities, HIV-related discrimination topped the list.
The statistics and graphs we’re releasing today only scratch the surface of our findings. Over the next year, we’ll publish more in-depth analysis on specific issues, as well as breakdowns by race and geography. In addition, we are collaborating with StoryCenter to pair the data with the stories and experiences of real people leading this work across the country.
Too often, the few resources devoted to supporting trans people living with HIV are limited to prevention and treatment programs, which, while of course important, are unable to address the root causes of high HIV prevalence and poor health outcomes in our communities. By addressing the social factors that shape trans people’s experiences, we hope our findings will reveal a more complex picture that will convince policymakers of the urgent need to address these social factors, so that the conditions shaping our communities’ livelihoods shift enough to give every TGNC person living with or at risk for HIV the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life free from violence.
Our data show that that day is still a long way off, but also point to a path forward. We would like to honor our community by supporting a policy agenda that aligns with their priorities – health and legal literacy, economic empowerment, and alternatives to incarceration. Stay tuned for the full research report, featuring recommendations and solutions!