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Rural Health Information Hub

Transgender People

Transgender person is defined as:

“a person whose gender identity or expression is different from their sex assigned at birth.”

Data shows that transgender people are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2019, 2% of all new HIV cases were identified in transgender people. Most new HIV cases were identified in Black/African American transgender people. CDC estimates that the HIV prevalence of transgender women is especially high, with approximately 14% of transgender women testing positive for HIV. An estimated 3% of transgender men tested positive for HIV. The percentage of people in the U.S. who test positive for HIV overall is less than 0.5%.

Transgender people face barriers to receiving HIV prevention interventions, as well as early testing and diagnosis, and linkage to quality care. Some challenges that transgender people may experience that put them at high risk of HIV infection include:

  • Experiences of stigma, discrimination, and transphobia
  • Experiences of violence and abuse
  • Healthcare providers who are not informed about health issues that impact transgender people
  • Lack of programs specifically designed to address needs of transgender people
  • Lack of support for medical gender affirmation or gender identity
  • Job loss resulting in a lack of health insurance
  • Restrictions on healthcare coverage despite protections under the law

There are laws that protect transgender people from discrimination and restrictions related to healthcare, but in some areas and healthcare settings there remains a lack of awareness about these policies. In rural communities it can be especially challenging for transgender people to find HIV prevention and treatment programs that meet their needs, especially when the number of providers may already be limited.

Resources to Learn More

Toolkit for Providing HIV Prevention Services to Transgender Women of Color
Describes strategies and resources community organizations can use to provide effective HIV prevention services to transgender women of color.
Organization(s): Sentient Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Date: 8/2019

Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America
Examines the experiences of transgender people living in rural communities and highlights the challenges faced related to unemployment, poverty, and discrimination. Includes recommendations for how communities can work together to improve the health and well-being of transgender people.
Organization(s): Movement Advancement Project
Date: 11/2019