Story at a glance

  • ‎HIV causes AIDS, a fatal condition with no cure.
  • A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 4 out of 10 transgender women in several major cities are living with HIV.
  • The HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ community, especially those of color.

After President Biden announced his intention to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic once and for all, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals just how widespread the crisis is in the United States. 


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More than 4 out of 10 transgender women in several major cities tested positive for HIV in 2019, according to the study, which measured HIV rates among transgender women in areas where the virus is prevalent. In Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York City, more than half of the women surveyed tested positive, followed by 45 percent in New Orleans, 41 percent in San Francisco, 33 percent in Los Angeles and 21 percent in Seattle. 

“HIV testing is the gateway to all treatment and prevention, and expanding testing means more transgender women are aware of their status and can engage in the care they need — if we help them connect to appropriate and responsive care services,” said Joseph Prejean, acting deputy director for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory science in CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in a release.


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Racial and geographic data on HIV, such as those documented in the study, is relatively rare, reported the 19th. More than two-thirds of American Indian and Alaska Native transgender women in these cities are living with HIV, the study found, followed by just less than two-thirds of Black transgender women and a little more than one-third of Hispanic or Latina transgender women. These women are also more susceptible to anti-transgender discrimination and violence, and their communities historically lack access to necessary medical care. 

“These data provide a clear and compelling picture of the severe toll of HIV among transgender women and the social and economic factors — including systemic racism and transphobia — that are contributing to this unacceptable burden,” said Demetre Daskalakis, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in the release. “Reducing HIV in these communities will require that public health and other providers of social and prevention services design innovative and comprehensive status-neutral solutions to overcome barriers to whole person prevention and care.”  


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Published on Apr 20, 2021