Are you a Trans person? Keep an eye on HIV
In recent years, HIV statistics have begun to make visible a particularly vulnerable population: transgender people. It has been observed that especially Trans women are exposed to a much higher risk of contracting HIV than any other population.
If you are a Trans person living in Latin America, it is very likely that you have faced a large number of obstacles, either for the recognition of your identity or for access to fundamental rights such as health, studies or employment. There are still very few countries in the region that legally recognize the identity of Trans people, which seems to reflect the position of societies in the face of this situation.
Unfortunately, to these daily problems we must add what health authorities such as the World Health Organization have identified: Trans people are at a disproportionately high risk of contracting HIV.
Earlier this year, a review of data on the presence of HIV in Trans women from 34 countries confirmed that they are at higher risk of acquiring HIV than the general population, but found prevalence to be much higher than previously thought estimated so far. This research, product of the review of 98 scientific studies, concluded that a Trans woman has a 66 times greater risk of having HIV compared to people in the general population.
Why are they at greater risk?
If you are a Trans person, you have probably had to explain to others what this means. Perhaps the easiest way to put it is that these are people whose lived identity (what they feel they are) does not match the sex they were born with (male or female).
This being so, a large part of society looks at these people negatively. This is reflected in an important way in the little access to health services, where often the identity with which that person operates on a day-to-day basis is not respected. This is an obstacle for this group of the population to access the health services they need.
But that is not the only factor that exposes Trans people to contracting HIV. You can also mention:
- Lack of access to health information: Today there are HIV prevention options other than condoms, such as using antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection (a treatment known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP), but Since trans people do not have access to health services, they do not know about or receive these options.
- Lack of access to HIV testing: In many countries, being trans means not having a real-life legal identity, making it difficult to get a job or a home, and making it impossible to pay for an HIV test in a private laboratory.
- High-risk behaviors: The stigma, discrimination, and mental health issues that this entails could make transgender people more likely to use drugs, engage in unprotected sex, and engage in sex work—activities that put them at greater risk. HIV risk.
- Hormone use: Many transgender people inject themselves with hormones to affirm their gender, but if this occurs in an informal setting, the risks of sharing needles carry the risk of HIV as well.
How to stay away from HIV?
HIV is a treatable infection, but not curable, so the ideal is to keep it out of our lives. If you are a Trans person, you can take care of yourself in the same way as others, but it is crucial that you do so with awareness and with a commitment to your own health. Steps to take care of yourself include:
- Reduce the use of injection drugs or take appropriate precautions: The ideal is to reduce or stop the use of recreational injection drugs. If this is not possible, it is necessary to use new and disposable injection equipment each time.
- Reduce the number of sexual partners: The probability of contracting HIV decreases as the number of intimate partners also decreases.
- Practice safer anal sex: Anal sex is a practice with a particularly high risk of contracting HIV, since the tissue of the rectum is fragile and can be damaged during penetration. This is why it is important to use a condom in all sexual relations.
- Take preventive treatment or PrEP: Approaching the health institution in your country will help to know if you are a candidate for taking PrEP, a highly effective treatment to protect you from HIV.
As society moves towards respecting all sexual identities, it is in your hands to take care of your own health. Remember that at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we work in a respectful and inclusive environment to bring HIV services to all those who need them. Come to our offices in your country or write to us by Whatsapp and learn about all our services.