World AIDS Day 2013
We are facing a new day in the World of HIV and AIDS. In recognition of World AIDS Day 2013 we want you to take a closer look at where we are in battling this epidemic and more importantly, where we can go if we all make an effort to join in the fight together.
We want you to know the facts, we want to dispel the myths, and we want you to know the truth that is often hidden or rarely discussed. Most importantly, we want you to know that no matter how much you decide to get involved, or how much you are able to get involved, we need you to get involved. HIV and AIDS impacts us all, and it will take all of us working together to turn the tide.
Anyone can test positive for HIV. But due to social stigma, institutional barriers, and discrimination some members of our communities are more affected by HIV and AIDS. Among these people are people of color, transgender people, trans women and those who live at the intersection of those identities.
In addition to a lack of access to health care for transgender people, there is a pervasive stigma that impacts all of those affected by HIV and AIDS. This stigma manifests in social interactions, when seeing a doctor, and even when trying to find employment. This World AIDS Day, let’s take a look at some of the stories of the 34 million people living with HIV.
Transgender people and HIV/AIDS
According to Injustice at Every Turn, a survey conducted by the National Center of Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the rate of HIV infection for the transgender respondents, more than 4 times the rate of the general population. People of color in the sample reported substantially higher rates: 24.9% of African-Americans, 10.9% of Latin@s, 7% of American Indians and 3.7 of Asian-Americans reported being HIV positive.
It’s important to not simply take these statistics at their face value. Behind the statistics is a cycle of institutional oppressions transgender people face simply because they are transgender. Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, said
“The transgender community suffers a high rate of infection due to lack of employment which leads to working in underground economies, as well as making us susceptible to homelessness, poor health and many other things.”
Transgender women in particular are at a higher risk for contracting HIV. According to the Center for Disease Control, a 2008 review of studies found that on average, 28% of all trans women reported they had tested positive for HIV.
“Thirty years into the HIV epidemic we still have major discrimination and
stigma related to HIV,”-Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director
Disclosure of one’s HIV status can lead to wrongful termination from a job, wrongful eviction from one’s residence, denial of services, or assault. Because of stigma and discrimination, many people are afraid to get tested for HIV, to take up HIV prevention and treatment, to disclose their HIV status, and to participate in national HIV responses.
Here are a few ways we can work together to eliminate stigma:
- Community interaction and focus group discussions involving people living with HIV and members of populations vulnerable to HIV infection;
- Use of media, including advertising campaigns, entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse (“edutainment”), and integration of non-stigmatizing messages into TV and radio shows;
- Engagement with religious and community leaders, and celebrities;
- Peer mobilization and support developed for and by people living with HIV aimed at promoting health, well-being and human rights
All of these statistics point to the fact that when we reflect on World AIDS Day, we must continue to feel urgency in addressing the barriers the most marginalized in our communities face. Please use this opportunity to educate yourself and others, and be a part of the solution in getting to zero new infections.
In addition to attending one of the many events in recognition of World AIDS Day 2013 that begin on November 29th, we urge you to join us in pledging to take action, today, tomorrow, and each day moving forward! Get tested, know your status, and take steps to eliminate barriers for other to accessing health care and services.
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