Cross-posted from AIDS.gov.
Transgender communities in the United States are among the groups at highest risk for HIV infection. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) observes that, historically, our efforts focused on this population have been limited, but that the Federal government has made strides in improving our response since 2010. Urging that we remain vigilant in increasing knowledge and appropriate support and interventions for this population, the Strategy rightly includes transgender women, especially Black transgender women, among the populations disproportionately affected by HIV for and with whom we must prioritize interventions.
Transgender leaders and their allies have been working to raise awareness about the unmet HIV prevention and care needs in the transgender community and to improve programs, policies, and data supported by the Federal government. They have pressed the Federal government, and the HIV community more broadly, to be more thoughtful and thorough in our follow through on the parts of the Strategy that are most important for improving the health of transgender persons living with HIV and preventing new HIV infections in this population.
Over the past several months, we and colleagues from CDC, HRSA, and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy have had the opportunity to engage in a number of conversations – including a White House meeting on HIV in the transgender community – during which we heard from transgender women and men about their experiences and recommendations for improving the response to HIV in the transgender community. The data and lived experiences they brought to these meetings were compelling.
The White House meeting and subsequent discussions have identified a variety of on-going efforts to reduce HIV risk and improve health among transgender persons from across several HHS agencies. These discussions also resulted in specific new steps that could be taken in the near-term and down the road to continue and expand efforts to improve our nation’s HIV prevention and care efforts for transgender people. We are pleased to share an update on several of these new activities that are underway or about to begin:
We expect that these efforts will expand and enhance the HIV prevention and care services available to transgender people across the nation. We are hopeful that they will motivate partners – including health departments, health systems, clinicians, CBOs, faith communities, employers and others – to consider what steps they might take to augment and further strengthen their own efforts so that together we better serve this population that has suffered too many injustices for too long.
Amy Lansky, PhD, MPH is Acting Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
Rich Wolitski, PhD is Acting Director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy.
Laura Cheever, MD, ScM is Associate Administrator of the HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau.
Eugene McCray, MD is Director of the CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.