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“There has probably never been a population both more heavily impacted and less discussed at scientific meetings than the transgender population around the world” Dr Tonia Poteat CROI 2016
This was a recurring theme at the ASHM conference this year and not before time! Zahra and Teddy spoke to a paper that they plan to launch on World AIDS Day this year.
As background, trans people have been severely underserved in HIV/AIDS responses worldwide, and in Australia, with Victoria as the only state listing trans people as a priority population.
There is a lack of data on the prevalence of trans people living with HIV worldwide, however figures presented were: 19.1% of trans women, limited data for trans men, and no data for non-binary people. Australian figures from the Kirby ACCESS data showed of 696 people, 5.2% were HIV positive - 8.9% for trans women and 4.5% for trans men. However 40% had no gender identity recorded.
An interesting comment was the lack of knowledge by health professionals about trans gender issues and how, as a patient, they end up educating their health providers about trans gender issues, especially when having to meet narrow medical models for care which doesn't always sit well.
I thought this presented quote summed up further risks for HIV for trans people very well:
“Other barriers to health and health care are the numerous socioeconomic determinants of health that legally, economically and socially marginalize trans people. These include discrimination in employment, education, housing, and relationship recognition: police harassment, often as a result of actual or assumed association with sex work; and identity document policies that deny many trans people legal recognition in their true gender. They also include aspects of structural violence such as racism, violence against women, and poverty.” Open Society Foundation, 2013
So what can we do to support trans people in the HIV response?
- Include trans and gender diverse people as priority populations in HIV strategies
- Start collecting gender and sexuality data better! See attached photo of a suggested way of collecting gender data
- Positive interactions with medical community
- Access, informed consent
- Meaningful inclusion in health promotion campaigns
- Meaningful engagement and decision making by communities
I’ve also included a photo of the fab presenters. Thank you for an articulate and engaging presentation and panel discussion.