Commemorating the National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV

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October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015 marks the second annual National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV.

Positive Women’s Network USA (PWN-USA), an organization dedicated to addressing the needs of women living with HIV, organized this day of action in response to the high rates of interpersonal violence and brutality faced by women living with HIV. This year, Lambda Legal has partnered with PWN-USA in support and solidarity.

Violence affects women in our communities at alarming rates, but has an especially dramatic effect on transgender women. One of the effects on transgender women is higher rates of HIV within the community, because a woman who is disempowered by violence or the threat of violence from intimate partners is less able to take the steps necessary to protect her sexual health. Estimates suggest that 28% of transgender women are living with HIV, with prevalence at nearly 50% for black transgender women. These statistics are unacceptable—and are at least in part due to the epidemic of violence within this community.

Furthermore, transgender women face incredibly high rates of poverty, unemployment, and healthcare discrimination, making it less likely that they will get tested and/or have a doctor help them manage HIV with medication. Preventing HIV is especially hard for transgender women, who are targeted by police as sex workers. Law enforcement officers interacting with transgender women routinely use legal conduct, such as carrying condoms or walking down the street, as evidence of prostitution and bring charges accordingly. 

Through our work, Lambda Legal is attempting to improve the lives of transgender women in all of these areas of life. Today, we are collaborating with groups like PWN-USA and others to ensure that the violence, both physical and systemic, against transgender women living with HIV is actively prevented.