HIV Testing for the Trans Community Must Remain a Top Priority

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Apr 17, 2020

On April 18, many of the nation’s health professionals and transgender men and women will recognize National Transgender HIV Testing Day to promote “the importance of routine HIV testing, status awareness and continued focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts among transgender and gender non-binary people,” according to  

COVID-19 testing has been dominating the news, but tests for and education on HIV testing remain important, especially for the transgender community. In a 2019 brief, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wrote that transgender women of color were at a higher risk of contracting HIV compared to White transgender women: HIV prevalence is 44.2 percent for Black trans women and 25.8 percent Latinx trans women, compared to 6.7 percent for White trans women. 

When it comes to the biggest hurdles faced by the transgender community and HIV testing, Dr. Anu Seshadri, +Life medical correspondent and UCLA Health internist and pediatrician, noted three: “Certain behavioral and socioeconomic factors; discrimination; and a lack of general knowledge when it comes to transgender issues by health care services and the public.” 

Seshadri said that multi-platform sites like +Life, which features stories and interviews with people who are living with HIV, are vital. “We are also able to educate people through our platform on various levels, in a manner that is simple and easy to understand for everyone,” says Seshadri. 

For people who are living with HIV, like Tiommi Luckett, communications and training assistant at Positive Women’s Network USA, digital platforms create a vehicle for people to access information. “This platform provides answers in a loving, supportive way to all who are impacted by HIV/AIDS,” said Luckett. “There is no shame, but strength, in using this medium.”

To provide information on testing and HIV facts, the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health has published a National Transgender HIV Testing Day Toolkit accessible here.