Transgender people are not getting adequate health care, and widespread discrimination is largely to blame, according to a recent World Health Organization report. And the story is told most starkly in the high rates of HIV among transgender women worldwide.
JoAnne Keatley, one of the authors of that study, puts it plainly. “Just shocking rates,” she tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “There was a recent meta-analysis demonstrating that a transgender woman was 49 times as likely to be living with HIV [than the general population] in 15 countries in which data was looked at and analyzed.”
Only 15 countries offered available, laboratory-confirmed data on HIV prevalence among transgender people — and no countries from Eastern Europe or Africa had released such information by the time the WHO report was compiled. Yet, in the available data, another number one stood out: Among sex workers, transgender women are nine times likelier to have HIV than their non-transgender counterparts.
Keatley, who is a transgender woman herself, works with the Center for Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, San Francisco. And she explains that, behind the bleak statistics, widespread discrimination lurks at the root of this HIV prevalence.
Population of focus: Transgender adults
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Organization: World Health Organization