Today, Transgender Law Center honors the work of all activists who strive to help improve the situation for people impacted by AIDS/HIV around the world.

“On World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that transgender people continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS all across the world,” said JoAnne Keatley, Director of the San Francisco-based Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. “Not only do we have among the highest HIV rates, we have less access to life-sustaining therapies than other communities impacted by the epidemic.”

Cecilia Chung, San Francisco Health Commissioner, echoed those sentiments. “On this World AIDS Day, people living with HIV are living longer in high income countries. But globally, transgender people living with HIV continue to face stigma, human rights violations, violence and barriers to health care access. It is pivotal to prioritize research and accurate data collection for this key population,” she said.

In the United States, we are fortunate to have some key data. A survey conducted by the National Center of Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a sample of nearly 6,500 transgender people reported a 2.6 percent rate of HIV infection, more than 4 times the rate of the general population. People of color in the sample reported substantially higher rates: 24.9% of African-Americans, 10.9% of Latin@s, 7% of American Indians and 3.7 of Asian-Americans reported being HIV positive.

Also particularly affected by AIDS/HIV are transgender women. According to the Center for Disease Control, a 2008 review of studies found that on average, 28% of all trans women reported they had tested positive for HIV.

“Health care providers need to be aware of the disproportionate impact and also be better equipped to provide us with comprehensive care,” said Danielle Castro of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. “Organizations like TLC and the Center for Excellence are working hard to ensure that this is in fact the case.”

Transgender Law Center hopes that through a better understanding of the many obstacles faced by our community, policy makers and health care providers can better understand and provide support and education for the groups that are most at risk, and help reduce the devastation that AIDS/HIV has represented for our community.

Over the last few years, we have been prioritizing our work to ensure all transgender people have access to quality, affordable health care. Through our collaboration with Lyon-Martin Health Services, we launched Project HEALTH, which has trained many clinics, launched local health councils, and most recently launched a helpline for doctors to ask questions about treating transgender and gender non-conforming patients.

For national resources please visits aids.gov for events, testing sites, and resources

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, please consider participating in “Paint the Castro Red” to show your support. For additional information on how to get involved in work related to AIDS/HIV and other health issues that disproportionately affect the trans community, please visit the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health and/or the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center.