According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 percent of transgender women (biological men) are infected with HIV, a fact that the CDC attributes in part to the “stigma” faced by transgender people.
While 28 percent of transgender women test positive for HIV, only 12 percent report being infected, implying that a significant number of transgender women either don’t know they have HIV or aren’t reporting it.
Among African-American transgender women, the HIV rate is more than three times that of their white or Hispanic counterparts. The CDC states that 56 percent of African American transgender women are infected with HIV, compared to 17 percent of white transgender women and 16 percent of Hispanic transgender women.
Some of the “factors that contribute to the high rates of HIV,” the CDC states, are “stigma,” “lack of familial support,” and discrimination.
The CDC also lists “receptive anal sex without a condom,” “sex with multiple partners, and exchanging sex for drugs or money,” as some of the factors contributing to the high transgender HIV rates. But the health organization cautions against jumping to conclusions.
The CDC warns that “Individual behaviors alone do not account for the disparate HIV diagnoses among transgender people. Many cultural, socioeconomic, and health-related factors contribute to these diagnoses and prevention challenges in transgender communities.”
For example, the CDC website states, “Many transgender people face social rejection and marginalization that excludes them from participating and functioning in society.”
One of the results of this “rejection and marginalization” is that “[s]ome transgender people who experience poverty rely on sex work to meet their basic survival needs,” the CDC claims.
Thus, the CDC claims, the social rejection and marginalization that transgender people face can force them to engage in sex work and become infected with HIV. According to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, 42 percent of transgender women report engaging in commercial sex work.
Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson