Stigma and insensitivity surrounding the trans community impacts our access to housing, employment, health care, and education; we are less likely to know our HIV statuses, or seek and receive treatment if positive. There is an extraordinary lack of information about the trans community and HIV infection overall, but what we do know is that trans women of color—who are also the members of our community with the greatest likelihood of being murdered or assaulted—have the highest prevalence of HIV at 22%, according to the CDC.
Stigma is only as strong as the silence that surrounds it, and the silence keeps our community at risk. April 18 is National Transgender HIV Testing Day, and we have an opportunity to stop the silence.
With a proud history of donating funds to local organizations who preserve and enable members of our community who are living with HIV and AIDS, Folsom Street Events has been honored to include the National AIDS Memorial Grove as a beneficiary for the past several years. One result of this partnership is the Surviving Voices Project, created in collaboration with the HIV Story Project. Telling these stories with integrity and grace is a critical part of interrupting the stigma surrounding us.
Today is a day when we can start talking about the things that keep us quiet and hidden, and take ground toward being status-aware. We can listen to and share stories from people like Erica and Jennifer through the CDC’s Act Against AIDS campaign, we can be vocal about getting tested, and help to create better access for trans people to the care we need.
Today is a day for us—trans people and allies alike—to oppose the silence that keeps us hidden; it is a reminder to continue raising our voices and our visibility, and start demonstrating that we are not alone, we add value to this world, and our lives matter.
—Samuel Carrington, Member, Board of Directors: Folsom Street Events