Let’s End Transphobia To Prevent HIV & AIDS
New statistics suggest by CDC (2017) suggest that annual HIV infections declined in some populations, but increased in others. CDC estimated that the LGBTQ bore the greatest burden of the disease, representing an estimated 26,000 new HIV infections per year.
While research suggests that HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, or income, there’s evidence that transgenders might slightly be at a higher risk of contracting the infection as compared to others.
A 2017 paper used meta-analysis and synthesized national surveys to estimate that 1 million adults in the United States are transgender and of these 1 million, CDC reports 14% of transgender women to be HIV positive. Also, among the 3 million HIV testing events reported to CDC in 2017, the percentage of transgender people who received a new HIV diagnosis was 3 times the national average.
Research suggests that there are certain risk factors that are directly associated with transphobia and marginalization that transgender people face, leading to them indulging in risky behaviors.
UNFPA identifies transphobia as “a prejudice directed at trans people because of their actual or perceived gender identity or expression.” Many transgender people face stigma, discrimination, social rejection, and exclusion that prevent them from fully participating in society, including accessing health care, education, employment, and housing.
These factors affect the health and well-being of transgender people, placing them at increased risk for HIV. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the associated factors that contribute to such high infection rates are indulgence into drug and alcohol abuse due to little or no awareness, sex work due to limited access to earning means and incarceration due to frustration leading to criminal tendencies and homelessness.
Moreover, transgender women and men are niether sufficiently reached by current HIV testing measures nor do they ample awareness. It is known that for these reasons, many transgenders try attempting suicide. What aggravates the frustration that leads to suicide in their community is unemployment, lack of familial support, violence and stigma against them along with regular negative healthcare encounters.
This is alarming and raises an important question: what we, as a society need to do to reduce transphobia and what can it do to reduce the growing HIV risk in transgenders?
The answer is simple: AWARENESS!
With awareness, transphobia can be ended and that can help reduce the risk of growing HIv infections in transgenders. However yes, awareness is not that simple to achieve. Through proper interventions transphobia can be ended and HIV can be prevented. Some of the interventions in Abudo’s opinion are:
- Offering education, employment and equal opportunities to transgenders.
- Having a robust law enforcement framework by the state to eliminate discrimination and combat violence against transgender.
- Discouraging hate speech motivated by bias against a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity while also penalizing people involved in hate speech on social media platforms.
- Criminalising offences committed on the basis of transphobic hatred, and make such motivation an aggravating circumstances like not offering equal opportunities.
- Providing special training to doctors, nurses and technicians involved in treating transgenders.
- Advocating transgender rights at the public facilities liek hospitals, schools and transport systems.
- Minimizing the costs for treatment of diseases such as HIV and making medication for HIV readily available.
- Building alliances involving civil society, governments, national human rights institutions, faith-based communities and the private sector can help build more inclusive societies where transgender persons can live freely, safely and be treated equally.
- Registering and reviewing complaints, providing legal advice to transgender complainants and encouraging them to choose lifestyles just like other genders.
- Providing education about safe sex and encouraging transgenders to seek medical support in case of any emergency.
- Making preventive care for transgenders readily available.
Lastly, showing compassion.
Yes. You read that right.
Compassion needs to be the illuminating force to drive transphobia out. In ending violence, harrassment and discrimination against transgenders everyone has to understand that accosting any individual is unlawful. Here’s what we can do in this regards to end transphobia and in turn prevent HIV:
- Support the adaptation of ‘gender-neutral’ restrooms
- Expose yourself to media discussing trans issues
- Speak up when someone makes jokes about gender identity
- Make an effort to avoid pronouns or terminologies that discriminate on the basis of gender
- Don’t ask about someone’s sexual orientation
- Don’t ask about someone’s status of transition—or what plans are being considered
- Don’t give unasked-for makeup or fashion advice
In general, DON’T fear other gender or make other FEAR you!
End transphobia not only to help transgenders lead a better life but to prevent HIV from spreading and saving all other genders from the menace!