Just days after the world celebrated International Women’s Day, right here within the U.S. we now commemorate , which is devoted to encouraging all women to get examined and, if vital, handled for HIV.
HIV is usually perceived as a “gay man’s disease.” But if that have been true, then none of us women must fear about it or have a day to commemorate it, proper? Approximately . When taking a look at international statistics, that .
To correctly talk about HIV charges amongst women and sit up for options, we have to first take a look at a number of the “whys.” Why are so many women being? Why are transgender women disproportionately affected by the epidemic? Why do women particularly expertise the very best incidence and of contracting HIV?
And, maybe most significantly, why aren’t ALL women becoming a member of collectively on a unified entrance to confront the established order and alter present HIV developments?
We are a stronger pressure when working collectively than we’re when working aside.
First, let’s make one factor clear: Transgender women are women, and we face extra societal challenges than most individuals might ever think about. These challenges put us at increasing risk of poverty, homelessness, discrimination, violence and HIV an infection. And in case you’re a Black or Brown transgender lady, it’s a must to struggle even more durable simply to remain even. (Sounds like each Black lady’s story, doesn’t it?)
We use the time period cisgender to explain women whose gender id is identical because it was assigned at delivery. The time period transgender describes individuals whose gender id is totally different from the one they have been assigned at delivery.
As a Black transgender lady and health supplier dwelling within the South, I do know firsthand how intricately women’s lives are related, notably because it pertains to HIV. Cis and trans women eat on the similar eating places. We see the identical films (“Wakanda forever!”). We store on the similar shops, and we date the identical males.
Yes, we date the identical males. Does that shock you? Heterosexual males are by definition gynosexual, which suggests they’re interested in women and femininity. And transgender women are women. It follows that, if our male heterosexual companions are interested in women, this consists of transgender women.
And this, proper right here, is why all of us should work collectively within the struggle towards HIV, as a result of no lady ought to consider that she has zero danger of contracting HIV.
In my work, I see a really totally different perspective of the HIV epidemic. Southern women are typically too well mannered to inquire a few associate’s HIV standing. We may be too trusting to insist on common HIV and STD testing. We may be too naive to assume the person having unprotected intercourse with us has unprotected intercourse with another person, too.
At Positive Impact Health Centers, the place I work, we hear tales of down-low child daddies and dishonest husbands, positive. But we additionally hear tales of monogamous couples by which neither associate has ever been examined for HIV earlier than. We hear about women of their first trimester who study their new being pregnant and a brand new HIV analysis on the similar time. We hear about women who barely converse English however now need to discover ways to handle VIH (HIV in French) or SIDA (HIV in Spanish). We hear about women who have been promised the moon and stars, however as an alternative obtained gonorrhea and syphilis. And far too many Black and Brown women are testing constructive for HIV.
Women can’t permit ourselves to undergo life as victims. If we need to stay wholesome and glad lives ― with or with out HIV ― we’ve to take management of our destinies each as a group and as people. That means persistently and appropriately utilizing conventional and feminine condoms to stop HIV and STD transmissions. That means requiring extra from our companions and holding them accountable for his or her actions. That means having these intimate conversations with our companions in a nonjudgmental approach. That means making HIV and STD testing a daily a part of our sexual routines.
No lady ought to consider that she has zero danger of contracting HIV.
We want to make sure all women make HIV testing a part of their sexual health and, if a lady finds out she has HIV, we have to guarantee she is offered every little thing she must maintain herself and her household. This consists of complete HIV care, entry to protected and reasonably priced housing, help providers and case administration. This additionally consists of transgender-specific health packages and providers, entry to hormones and different help providers. These providers will assist all women dwelling with HIV enhance the standard of their lives and expertise higher health outcomes.
HIV is not a demise sentence, and it’s preventable. And for these dwelling with HIV, it’s additionally treatable. We can’t permit women and women to needlessly endure just because they don’t know their HIV standing or don’t have entry to correct care.
Ladies, we have to cease additional dividing ourselves into smaller and smaller separate teams. We are a stronger drive when working collectively than we’re when working aside. As women, we should do our half immediately, on National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day, and all through your complete yr to guard ourselves, our households and one another.
Ms. Tori Cooper is a prevention specialist at Positive Impact Health Centers in Atlanta.