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Black Cisgender And Transgender Women Continue To Be Left Out Of HIV Prevention Education And Treatment Efforts

New York, NY — Today, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Planned Parenthood continues its commitment to HIV prevention, testing, education, and referrals to care for Black communities that face the largest HIV and AIDS disparities. Over the past few years, Planned Parenthood expanded its comprehensive HIV Prevention Initiative in partnership with the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), a national organization working to stop the HIV epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals.

In 2019, Planned Parenthood Federation of America worked with BAI and the American Institutes for Research to conduct qualitative research with cisgender and transgender women of color — who face a disproportionate risk for HIV transmission — to better serve and provide HIV prevention education and care for these communities. We spoke with over 50 Black cisgender and transgender women of color across 8 states to learn and gather information on their experiences with decision-making around HIV prevention. This research showed that dispelling myths and de-stigmatizing HIV creates space for cis and trans women of color to discuss and use the HIV prevention methods that are best for them. Through our studies, we’ve gained knowledge about how cisgender and transgender women of color experience getting HIV information and preventative care at Planned Parenthood health centers in order to equitably serve patients in a compassionate, non-judgmental way.

Statement from Sara C. Flowers, DrPH, vice president of education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Black cisgender and transgender women continue to be left out of HIV prevention education and treatment efforts. Planned Parenthood is committed to decreasing HIV transmission rates by offering compassionate care, treatment, and education to as many people as possible in communities across the country. We know firsthand how important comprehensive HIV education and prevention is to protecting people’s sexual health, and we’re here with information, testing, and resources. As sex educators, advocates, and health care providers, we are committed to inclusive practices that offer our patients and communities empathetic, equitable HIV education and prevention services for Black Americans — who disproportionately experience higher rates of HIV due to systemic barriers to HIV education, prevention methods, and care.

HIV diagnoses decreased by 15% among Black Americans throughout the country from 2010 - 2017. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans are 13% of the US population, but made up 42% of new HIV diagnoses in 2018. While Black men who have sex with men account for the highest rate of new diagnosis, It’s important to focus on and center the needs of transgender and cisgender Black women who have been diagnosed with HIV — and whose voices have historically been lost in the fight to end the epidemic. A study released in 2019 by KFF.org states that 44% of Black transgender women live with HIV, and 26% of Black people who received an HIV diagnosis in 2017 were cisgender women. That’s why Planned Parenthood partnered with the Black Aids Institute to ensure we gathered information on how both communities access HIV prevention, education, and care. If current diagnosis rates continue, one in two Black gay or bisexual men, one in 20 Black men, and one in 48 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. HIV stigma affects Black people of all identities, which is why it’s so critical to ensure that HIV prevention is accessible to everyone in the community.

Structural racism, economic inequality, and implicit biases impact the quality of care and access to care for Black people. These inequities often result in delayed diagnoses and higher rates of STIs — which may increase one’s chances of transmitting HIV. Currently, 1 in 7 Black Americans who have HIV are unaware of it. That’s why it’s so important for Black people to have access to regular testing and lifesaving treatments like post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a series of pills you can start within 72 hours after being exposed to HIV. Another important medicine is pre-exposure prophylaxis PrEP — a daily pill that can lower your chance of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Regular testing can result in early diagnosis and treatment, and using preventative tools like PrEP, condoms, and PEP can greatly reduce one’s chances of contracting HIV. Today and every day, it’s important for Black communities to have access to the HIV prevention information, tools, and treatment they deserve to live healthy and safe sexual lives.

Planned Parenthood is dedicated to addressing the racial disparities in HIV prevention, which is why Planned Parenthood health centers across the U.S. provide PrEP and PEP –– and connect people living with HIV to treatment options so they can get the care they need. Planned Parenthood is committed to destigmatizing HIV and dismantling barriers to health care and information for Black communities. We provide sex education that is inclusive, medically accurate, and culturally relevant to the communities we serve –– and work with partners like the Black AIDS Institute to better serve our patients and communities. We are grateful to our partners and supporters in this critical work.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.