Thursday, December 1 marks World AIDS Day, a day for reflection in so many ways for so many people.
HIV can potentially affect anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The new cases around the world due to unsafe sex practices sadly reflect this. Unsafe injecting practices are also another factor.
It was therefore heartening to hear that there have been no new cases reported in Victoria in the last 12 months as a result of the latter. This is great news and reflects great work from all the agencies involved.
Discrimination on the basis of actual or assumed HIV status is also a concern. We urge people to contact the VGLRL or organisations like PLWHA or the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission if they believe such discrimination arises.
Further, the irrational assumption of “HIV being a gay thing” can lead to discrimination for gay men regardless of HIV status. The organisations above again give referral and other information in such a situation.
From a trans perspective, I have read research that discusses the higher prevalence of HIV among trans people. The reasons given include low self-esteem among trans people due to discrimination which leads to an inability to say no to unsafe sex.
Other trans people turn unwillingly rather than willingly to sex work, exposing them to potential risk. Building esteem and changing societal attitudes to reduce discrimination are therefore ways to help reduce potential new cases among trans people, both in Australia and around the world.
The Melbourne Transgender Day of Remembrance function two weeks ago saw the trans and allied communities stand together and come out stronger for it. Similarly, we can all stand together on World AIDS Day and emerge stronger. I wish everyone’s day has the appropriate meaning for them on this major day for all of our communities.
INFO: Sally Goldner is VGLRL treasurer and TransGender Victoria spokesperson.