National Transgender HIV Testing Day
April 18 is National Transgender HIV Testing Day (NTHTD), a day to recognize the importance of routine HIV testing and status awareness, as well as HIV prevention and patient-centered care, for transgender and gender non-binary people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), transgender people face many challenges in the prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV. HIV stigma may prevent transgender people from learning about their HIV status, and transgender people also face barriers to accessing healthcare services that are respectful, inclusive, and affirming of their gender identity.
According to data collected between 2017-2021, there were 301 new HIV diagnoses in New York City among people identified as transgender. Transgender people made up 3.4% of all new HIV diagnoses in NYC during this time period. 95% of diagnoses (287) were among transgender women. Among new HIV diagnoses among transgender people, 7% (20) were concurrent HIV and AIDS diagnoses. Three out of five transgender people with newly diagnosed HIV were between the ages of 20-29 and 49% and 41% were Black and Hispanic respectively.
The New York State Ending the Epidemic Initiative recognizes transgender New Yorkers as a key population impacted by HIV. The initiative lays out plans for a holistic approach to improving the health of transgender New Yorkers through an integrated comprehensive approach to transgender health care and human rights (Blueprint Recommendation 19), including employment programs and protections, housing support, non-discrimination laws, and an expansion of Medicaid coverage, in addition to more narrowly focused HIV testing and prevention and HIV care services for people diagnosed with HIV. Visit the ETE Policy tracker to learn about the various steps taken in New York State in regard to addressing the HIV epidemic amongst all population groups.
New York State law requires that HIV testing be offered to all persons between the ages of 13 and older receiving hospital or primary care services, with informed consent required when a test is offered as part of routine health care. However, transgender people may face challenges in finding healthcare providers who are knowledgeable and sensitive to their specific needs. Therefore, it is important to promote HIV testing sites and resources that are welcoming and supportive of transgender and non-binary people. To help address the disparities in treatment experienced by the transgender community, in 2019 New York State passed The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression, including in healthcare settings.
In New York City, there are many options for free or low-cost HIV testing, regardless of immigration status. The NYC Sexual Health Clinics offer confidential HIV testing and counseling and linkage to HIV care, as well as other sexual health services, for anyone 12 and older. There are many community-based organizations that offer HIV testing and prevention services tailored to transgender and gender non-binary people, such as Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Apicha Community Health Center, Housing Works, GMHC, and others.
National Transgender HIV Testing Day emphasizes the significance of regular HIV testing for transgender and gender non-binary people. However, these individuals often encounter obstacles in accessing inclusive and respectful healthcare services, leading to limited access to routine HIV testing. Transgender women of color are especially affected by HIV, with high prevalence rates. Reducing discrimination and stigma surrounding HIV testing and prevention is essential, along with promoting welcoming and supportive healthcare services for everyone. Explore more data here to stay up to date on the latest HIV trends in New York State.