Metro Weekly

Four in 10 trans women in major US cities test positive for HIV, CDC finds

Almost two-thirds of Black trans women reported testing positive for HIV

trans, women, transgender, hiv, health
Trans Pride flag – Photo: Ted Eytan – Flickr

An alarmingly high rate of transgender women in major U.S. cities have tested positive for HIV, according to a government study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled data from a study between late 2019 and early 2020, from a sample of 1,608 trans women living in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle. Among all participants, 42% of trans women reported being HIV-positive.

Rates were even higher for Black and Native American/Alaskan Native women: 62% of Black women and 65% of Native trans women reporting living with HIV.

For Latina trans women, 35% reported living with HIV, compared with 20% for Asian women and 17% for white women.

Dr. Demetre Daskalis, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS prevent, told The 19th that the study provides “a clear and compelling picture of the severe toll of HIV among transgender women and the social and economic factors — including systemic racism and transphobia — that are contributing to this unacceptable burden.”

According to The 19th, the data may not accurately reflect trans women across the country, or even in major cities, because researchers solely examined areas and populations at a greater risk of HIV.

A previous study pointed to lower rates of HIV, around 14%, among transgender women of all racial groups.

Ilan Meyer, distinguished senior scholar of public policy at the UCLA-affiliated Williams Institute, told The 19th that the “numbers are definitely alarming and call for renewed efforts to distribute [HIV prevention medication] and other preventive strategies among transgender women of color.”

However, Meyer noted that the CDC report is a step in the right direction given its sole focus on trans woman, as prior surveys placed trans women with gay and bisexual men, or neglected to include them.


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