Connect the Dots

Published: April 11, 2013

Transgender women of color form one of the most at-risk but least served groups when it comes to HIV, but a new federally funded initiative aims to do something about the situation.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, points out that not only are women in this category at high risk of contracting HIV, many are already HIV-positive and either don’t know it or are not receiving treatment for it. Transgender women often don’t seek health care or drop out of care, as they fear discrimination or have already experienced it. Also, some health care providers lack the knowledge and sensitivity needed to deal with these women.

The new initiative, called Enhancing Engagement and Retention in Quality HIV Care for Transgender Women of Color, seeks to encourage testing and treatment and to connect these women with appropriate care. HRSA has made five-year grants, beginning last year and extending through 2016, to organizations in several cities for the project; the organizations will design, implement, and evaluate programs to bring transgender women of color into ongoing HIV care.

“This has been a desperately needed initiative,” says Stan Sloan, chief executive officer of Chicago House, whose TransLife Project is one of the grantees. “It’s very exciting, and it’s very much needed.”

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