The Sexist

D.C.’s Transgender Community Suffers from Lack of HIV Statistics

After this week's post on the state of HIV in D.C., a commenter asked for some current statistics on the HIV/AIDS rate in the District's transgender population. Good luck.  D.C.'s Department of Health doesn't track cases based on gender identity in its annual report on the epidemic [PDF], though it does compile numbers on race, gender, Ward, and mode of transmission (ex. men who have sex with men). The CDC also fails to address gender identity [PDF] in its reports.

That's a problem, especially considering that the latest local data available—the DOH-funded 2000 Transgender Needs Assessment Survey—reveals staggering infection rates among trans women. Here's a rundown of that survey's findings:

The decade-old report surveyed 252 District transgender men and women on a variety of factors, including their HIV status. Of locals surveyed, 32 percent of trans women reported being HIV-positive, compared to 3 percent of trans men. (Twenty-two percent of those surveyed were unaware of their status).

More info on how HIV affects the community: Eighty-one percent of the HIV-positive trans men and women surveyed were black. And two-thirds of HIV-positive trans citizens "believe they became infected through unprotected sex with men." A "history of sexual assault, a history of sex work, and unemployment" also contributed to HIV rates in the community.

Also a contributing factor? The lack of public education and concern on how the epidemic affects the trans community. In 2008, Darby Hickey wrote of the invisibility of transgender people in the HIV conversation: "The communities hit hardest are African-American men and women, Lations, and gay and bisexual men of all races. Within these carefully drawn categories, some based on behavioral risk factor and others on racial, gender and sexual classifications, one community heavily affected by the epidemic remains invisible in the eyes of officialdom a quarter century since the first reports of the disease: transgender people."

The failure of mainstream studies to single out trans men and women in its numbers compounds the problem of getting testing, prevention, and treatment resources to that community. "There are no official reports because most agencies do not recognize trans people's existence at all," says Sadie-Ryanne Baker of the DC Trans Coalition. "They usually fold trans women in the 'men who have sex w/ men' category (even ones like me who sleep with women!) which means we have no independent numbers to analyze for trans folks. It also means that most trans folks don't even get tested or get safe sex supplies because all the forms force them to lie about their identity."

  • Pingback: From The Sexist: “D.C.’s Transgender Community Suffers from Lack of HIV Statistics” « DC Trans Coalition

  • kza

    How hard is it to buy condoms? I find it very easy.

  • groggette

    Did you know that trans women have one of the highests rates of rape of any group? And that condoms don't always stop the transmission of STIs?

    But you can obviously handle yourself, so everyone else is just an idiot.

  • TJ

    @groggette, don't fret too much over kza. He's good for a snarky remark... or two...

  • Rick Mangus

    The fact is this, people not only in DC but across the world are becoming stupid again and you know why!, AIDS is no longer a front page story! It's not only a non story in the main stream media but in the GLBT media as well!

  • kza

    Yes 'cause sexual assault is the only way they get HIV! I mean it says so right in the post!

  • Michelle

    Just remember that Transgender persons are second class people with no rights so it is acceptable to mistreat whether it is with rape or lie. That means a "real" person can tell anything to a second class person to do what the want and have their fun even if the have AIDS to give to the worthless person, transgender women.

  • Pingback: Where Is D.C.’s Transgender Data? - The Sexist - Washington City Paper