National Transgender HIV Testing Day: A Crucial First Step in Accessing Care and Staying Healthy
National Transgender HIV Testing Day (NTHTD) is Tuesday, April 18, a day to focus on HIV testing and status awareness, as well as HIV prevention tools for transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people.
Unfortunately, the transgender community — particularly trans women — continues to be disproportionately impacted by HIV. According to the CDC, recent surveys conducted in seven U.S. cities found that four in ten transgender women are living with HIV, showing stark racial and ethnic disparities in HIV rates among respondents: 62% of Black transgender women and 35% of Hispanic/Latina transgender women surveyed were HIV+, compared to 17% of White trans women.
Getting tested and knowing one’s status is vital to the health and well-being of trans individuals, and is especially important for those prepping for gender-affirming surgery.
Amida Care strongly supports HIV testing for our TGNC members, the first step in accessing care — antiretroviral medication (ART) if the results are positive or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) if they are HIV-negative.
For those who test negative, PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission and is a powerful tool in helping to end the HIV epidemic. At an Amida Care press conference in Brooklyn, Octavia Leona Kohner, an Amida Care member of trans experience, had this to say: “PrEP radically changed my life for the better. I can live a vivid, vibrant life, but I still need support. Some of that comes from media and culture. Some of that comes from my family, chosen or otherwise. And, an essential part of that is health care.”
Mimi Shelton is Director of Trans Initiatives at Destination Tomorrow, a grassroots agency and LGBTQ+ center in the Bronx. She spoke at a recent National Transgender HIV Testing Day event about the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and getting treatment to stay virally suppressed if HIV-positive: “It took me 28 years, but I can finally stand here today and tell my community: we’re not diseased, we’re worthy. I am enough. You are enough. We’re all enough … We’re not only enough, but we’re worthy of proper care, as well as access to intervention and prevention services for HIV.” Of Amida Care’s TGNC members living with HIV, 94% are virally suppressed, well above state benchmarks and the national average.
Whether you’re HIV- or HIV+, getting tested is the first step in accessing care and staying healthy!