Tuesday,  April 18 was National Transgender HIV Testing Day.

Organized by the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, the day is “designed to recognize the importance of routine HIV testing, status awareness and continued focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts among transgender people.”

Watch the invitation video with Miss Major, a Desiree Alliance Conference keynote speaker in 2013.

This day is so important for us at SWOP-USA, because we know that being transgender, being a person of color, and being involved in sex work all create barriers in access to justice, access to health services, access to livable wage mainstream jobs, and protection from violence and discrimination.

We also know that the criminalization of HIV and the criminalization of trans women of color create a lot of problems with the “test and treat” model. A 2015 study focused on trans sex workers, Meaningful Work, based on data from the National Trans Discrimination Survey found that:

  • 9.8% of sex worker respondents did not know their HIV status.
  • 15.3% of sex worker respondents said they were HIV+ overall, (compared to 1.2% of non-sex workers from the survey.)
  • 40.6% of black and black multiracial respondents with experience in the sex trade were HIV+ (compared to 7.0% of all black and black multiracial non-sex workers).
  • 32.9% of sex worker respondents reported being uninsured entirely (vs. 17.5 % of non-sex worker.)
  • 54.5% of sex worker respondents reported being mistreated by a doctor or hospital, versus 32.5% of non-sex workers.
  • 47.9% of sex worker respondents reported harassment and 28.9% were refused treatment by medical providers.

These barriers to care are close to home for us, and are directly related to the early death of one of our movement’s leaders, Sharmus Outlaw.

Efforts to provide quality healthcare, led by and in collaboration with the trans sex worker community, is so important to us. We applaud the work of the organizations making a dent in the overwhelmingly awful service provision to our trans communities, like la Casa Ruby, St. James Infirmary, HIPS DC, and new projects like New York City’s Glitz and Seattle’s RadCare.