Transgendered People Face High Risk of HIV, Receive Little Outreach, Globe Reports
The Boston Globe yesterday profiled Gender Identity Support Services for Transgenders, one of the few Boston-area organizations engaged in HIV/AIDS outreach work geared specifically toward transgendered sex workers. The organization distributes condoms and information about HIV transmission to a population that, according to anecdotal reports, has "very high rates" of HIV/AIDS but has received very few outreach services in the past. Dr. Gregory Fenton, medical director of the Sidney Borum Jr. Community Health Center, a clinic that serves transgender, bisexual, gay and lesbian patients as well as "disenfranchised youths," said that HIV is a "significant problem" among transgendered people and estimates that 30% of his transgendered patients are HIV-positive, with a higher infection rate among transgendered adolescents. Transgendered people are particularly at risk for acquiring HIV because of potential discrimination, "unhealthy" behaviors and "complex psychosocial and economic factors," the Globe reports. In addition, HIV drugs combined with the hormone supplements taken by many transgendered individuals can cause liver damage, Fenton said. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health for eight years has distributed funds to groups assisting transgendered individuals, such as GISST, and in 2001 identified the HIV problem in the transgendered population as "a public health issue in need of more attention" (Appel, Boston Globe, 10/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.