amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance, Calls for Increased Resources to Address HIV/AIDS Among Transgender Populations

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Cub Barrett, Program Communications Manager
cell: (847) 571-0509
cub.barrett@amfar.org 

NEW YORK, November 20, 2012—amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on Tuesday commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance and urged governments around the world to help curb discrimination and violence against transgender individuals while also addressing the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic among the population.

Observed annually every November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes those who have been killed as a result of transphobia and brings attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community. The day was first observed in 1998.

“At a time when so many transgender people around the world live in fear of violence and persecution, the rate of HIV/AIDS among them is also on the rise,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “When a group lives in the shadows, it is very difficult to reach them with lifesaving HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and treatment.”

amfAR’s GMT Initiative—focusing on gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender individuals, collectively known as “GMT”—seeks to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among GMT by investing in community-led responses to reach these populations. The program, formerly known as the MSM Initiative, was renamed in September 2012 to reflect its work with transgender populations.

HIV prevalence is disproportionately high among GMT around the world. A July 2012 analysis published in The Lancet shows that 25 percent of gay men and other MSM in the Caribbean are living with HIV, while 18 percent of MSM in Africa are infected. The few existing studies of transgender women have shown HIV prevalence of up to 68 percent in some countries. Additionally, in much of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, the highest rates of HIV infection in any risk group are among GMT.

“We follow the data, and the limited data we have tell us that transgender people are at very high risk of HIV infection in many parts of the world,” said amfAR GMT Initiative Director Kent Klindera. “If we’re going to end the epidemic, we need to first understand it among transgender individuals and then reach the people who need us most. Today reminds us that we have a long way to go to make the world safer for our transgender sisters and brothers. Governments everywhere must recognize that they have a responsibility to keep all of their citizens safe from violence and from disease.”

About amfAR  

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $366 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.