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Positively Trans Launches Survey of Transgender People Living With HIV

August 14, 2015

The Transgender Law Center's Positively Trans project has launched a pioneering survey of the experiences and needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming people living with HIV.

In the United States, transgender women are substantially more likely than the general population to be living with HIV. This is particularly true for transgender women of color, who are even more likely than white transgender women to experience violence, extreme poverty and harassment in healthcare settings. Besides increasing a person's chances of becoming HIV-positive, these factors make it difficult for someone living with HIV to stay healthy.

Although we know less about the HIV-related experiences of transgender men and gender non-conforming people, we do know that, like transgender women, these groups also experience violence, poverty and harassment in healthcare settings at alarming rates. While data indicate that transgender men and gender non-conforming people are less likely than transgender women to be living with HIV, those who do become HIV-positive are likely to face similar barriers to staying healthy.


For people who are living with HIV, access to housing and healthcare are critical to staying healthy. Because transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States encounter stigma in many areas of life, they are much more likely to be denied these basic needs. This reality makes understanding the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people living with HIV particularly crucial.

By sharing information about their lives, transgender and gender non-conforming people living with HIV can take part in addressing these inequalities. Research helps advocates and policymakers break down structural barriers to well-being for transgender and HIV-affected communities. It is also an important step in designing and expanding programs that serve transgender communities.

The Positively Trans survey focuses on legal and policy issues across the United States, and its results will influence the project's strategy and support its advocacy work.

Positively Trans is directed by prominent LGBT and health equity advocate Cecilia Chung, in partnership with a national advisory board of transgender HIV activists. The project centers the experiences of transgender women of color, but works broadly with transgender and gender non-conforming people living with HIV, including transgender men.

Though Positively Trans is one of the first national policy advocacy project made up of transgender and gender non-conforming people living with HIV, it builds on a robust tradition of HIV organizing and advocacy within transgender communities. As mentors and role models, organization heads, and members of federal committees, transgender women of color like Alexa Rodriguez, Tommy Luckett, JoAnne Keatley, and Raquel Sapien have become powerful voices for health justice.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people who are living with HIV can take the survey, available in either English or Spanish, through the Positively Trans website.

For more information on transgender people living with HIV, visit

Gabe Murchison is senior research manager, HRC Foundation.

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This article was provided by Human Rights Campaign. Visit Human Rights Campaign's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

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