A new study has revealed that trans and gender diverse (TGD) communities were ‘neglected’ when it comes to HIV prevention.
The Australian study released on World AIDS Day also showed that trans women ‘bear an extraordinarily heavy burden of HIV’.
The study also found that more research needed to be done to HIV’s prevalence among trans men who have sex with men (MSM).
To address the issue ACON, one of Australia’s HIV and LGBTI health organizations teamed up with two leading trans advocacy groups to create a discussion paper.
ACON teamed up with PASH.tm – a trans advocacy group for bisexual, gay and queer men – and Sydney’s leading trans health service, the Gender Centre.
Together they created the Effective and Meaningful Inclusion of Trans and Gender Diverse People in HIV Prevention discussion paper.
The aim of the paper is to to foster greater inclusion in HIV programs and services.
Understanding TGD communities
One of the key issues that need to be addressed is ensuring TGD populations are included and better reflected in HIV data and research. That’s according to PASH.tm co-chair, Ted Cook.
‘Currently, surveillance systems fail to accurately capture HIV prevalence among trans and gender diverse populations,’ Cook said.
‘Mostly, this is because we do not ask adequate gender-related questions in HIV diagnosis and notification processes.
‘As a result, there is very little empirical data on the experiences and needs of people with trans experience or non-binary people in relation to HIV.’
Cook said and inaccurate collection of gender marker data means that TGD communities are often not identified, which compounds invisibility.
‘Changes to the existing processes, informed by experiences, histories and identities of trans and gender diverse people, are a necessity,’ he said.
It’s time to make a change
It was time to better address the needs of TGD people in HIV prevention according to ACON CEO, Nicolas Parkhill.
‘The changing landscape of HIV prevention presents new and important opportunities,’ he said.
‘As our response evolves, it has become increasingly obvious that there are major barriers to meaningful trans and gender diverse inclusion – and unless we address these barriers carefully and pragmatically, we will see increasing disparity, where some people do not derive the same benefits from the gains we are making in HIV.
‘Everyone at risk of acquiring HIV has to be meaningfully included in our work if we are to achieve the virtual elimination of HIV transmission,’ Parkhill said.
‘That does not mean just for some – it means for all those at risk.