New CDC report finds transgender women at higher risk for HIV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (Photo courtesy of the CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new report revealing that, restricted by employment and housing discrimination and lack of access to needed gender-affirming health care, transgender women face increased risk of contracting HIV. 

Researchers reviewed data from a 2019-20 survey, the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Among Transgender Women, which found that the demographics of HIV/AIDS have been disproportionally high, especially among Black and Latin trans women, who had experienced employment and housing discrimination coupled with lack of access to gender-affirming health care.

The Jan. 25 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was based on data studies of more than 1,600 trans women in seven major urban locales. Participants from Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle were chosen by referrals from people and community-based organizations who knew or were part of the local population of trans women.

The study’s researchers noted: “Employment discrimination occurs at the overlapping nexus of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, health insurance, disability, food insecurity and survival sex work. These issues are interconnected.”

The study stated that trans women’s inability to access quality health care, including gender-affirming treatment and access to PrEP, can expose them to potential incarceration as many turn to “survival sex work” and violence, which increases the risk of contracting HIV. 

The study’s author’s pointed out: “When economically marginalized transgender women are refused employment, this refusal cyclically contributes to economic hardships. This analysis … demonstrates the importance of transgender women working and living with dignity and without fear of unfair treatment.”

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